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frus·​trate ˈfrə-ˌstrāt How to pronounce frustrate (audio)
frustrated; frustrating

transitive verb

: to balk or defeat in an endeavor
frustrated her opponents by her ball-handling
: to induce feelings of discouragement in
Not being able to find a job frustrated him.
: to make ineffectual : bring to nothing
Illness frustrated his plans for college.
: impede, obstruct
The project was frustrated by government regulations.
: to make invalid or of no effect


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: characterized by frustration
Choose the Right Synonym for frustrate

frustrate, thwart, foil, baffle, balk mean to check or defeat another's plan or block achievement of a goal.

frustrate implies making vain or ineffectual all efforts however vigorous or persistent.

frustrated attempts at government reform

thwart suggests frustration or checking by crossing or opposing.

the army thwarted his attempt at a coup

foil implies checking or defeating so as to discourage further effort.

foiled by her parents, he stopped trying to see her

baffle implies frustration by confusing or puzzling.

baffled by the maze of rules and regulations

balk suggests the interposing of obstacles or hindrances.

officials felt that legal restrictions had balked their efforts to control crime

Examples of frustrate in a Sentence

Verb It frustrated him to miss so many games because of injuries. We've been frustrated by bureaucratic delays. Bureaucratic delays have frustrated our efforts to resolve this problem. The lack of investors has frustrated them in their efforts to expand the company.
Recent Examples on the Web
Those groups tend to be hit hardest by inflation, which has yet to return to 2020 levels, and high interest rates, which have frustrated first-time home buyers and drained the finances of those dependent on credit. Lydia Depillis, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 Senate Republicans, frustrated by this norm-breaking obstruction, threatened during George W. Bush’s presidency to end the filibuster for judges. The Editors, National Review, 21 Nov. 2023 Now the Bruin Faithful will see what’s really important to Jarmond: a wealthy donor’s opinion or the despair of countless Bruins who don’t bother to attend home games at the Rose Bowl and are continually frustrated with a clueless coach. Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2023 Also in October, apparently frustrated by the long regulatory process, senior SpaceX officials, including William Gerstenmaier, the company’s vice president for build and flight reliability, conducted rare media interviews arguing that regulators aren’t keeping up with the pace of industry. WIRED, 18 Nov. 2023 Trump and his lawyers have been increasingly frustrated with Engoron presiding over the non-jury trial in James' lawsuit. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports,, 17 Nov. 2023 Miller later acknowledged to authorities that he had been frustrated with how Graber had taught her Spanish class and how his GPA had suffered as a result. Timothy Bella, Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2023 People can grow frustrated with the traits expected of them—or of their siblings. Sarah Sloat, The Atlantic, 14 Nov. 2023 The formidable task was frustrated by the telescope’s exquisite sensitivity: Many of the faint objects typically used as landmarks blinded JWST’s ultra-sensitive eye. Quanta Magazine, 13 Nov. 2023
Drugstores also have been dealing with several issues that frustrate customers. Tom Murphy, Fortune, 17 Oct. 2023 In refusing to tie up loose ends or even explain exactly what our protagonists are up against, the writer-director doesn’t frustrate expectations so much as whet appetite for future installments where those concerns will presumably be addressed. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 5 Oct. 2023 Home prices rose in July as low supply continued to frustrate buyers. Nicole Friedman, WSJ, 26 Sep. 2023 That imperative meant using the United Kingdom’s wealth and manpower to build coalitions with like-minded states to frustrate would-be European hegemons. David Reynolds, Foreign Affairs, 8 May 2020 But Rydin points out that employees have concerns, too, including reduced availability, longer response times may frustrate clients and difficulty adapting to changes at work. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 5 May 2023 Last month, the National Labor Relations Board issued five complaints against Amazon, one dealing with Bessemer, for a rule that union activists interpreted as a way to frustrate organizing activity. William Thornton |, al, 6 June 2023 Some experts also hope that the same cheap solar panels and batteries that frustrate U.S. trade policymakers can be used to help less-resourced nations go green. Christian Shepherd, Washington Post, 30 May 2023 Avoid using jargon or complex language that may confuse or frustrate users. Yec, Forbes, 18 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'frustrate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Adjective

Middle English, from Latin frustratus, past participle of frustrare to deceive, frustrate, from frustra in error, in vain

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of frustrate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near frustrate

Cite this Entry

“Frustrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


frustrated; frustrating
: to prevent from carrying out a purpose
tried to frustrate his opponents in their efforts
: to bring to nothing
the accident frustrated the plan

Medical Definition


transitive verb
frus·​trate ˈfrəs-ˌtrāt How to pronounce frustrate (audio)
frustrated; frustrating
: to induce feelings of frustration in

Legal Definition


transitive verb
frus·​trate ˈfrəs-ˌtrāt How to pronounce frustrate (audio)
frustrated; frustrating
: to make invalid or ineffectual : defeat
the remedial purposes of the Workers' Compensation Act should not be frustrated by rigid technical standardsPalmer v. Bath Iron Works Corp., 559 A.2d 340 (1989)

More from Merriam-Webster on frustrate

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