ir·​ri·​tant | \ ˈir-ə-tənt How to pronounce irritant (audio) \

Definition of irritant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that irritates or excites



Definition of irritant (Entry 2 of 2)

: causing irritation specifically : tending to produce physical irritation

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Examples of irritant in a Sentence

Noun dust and other lung irritants The delay was a minor irritant.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ozone, a respiratory irritant, is normally a cause of concern for Colorado in the summertime. Hannah Gard And Monica Garrett, CNN, 6 Aug. 2021 Greene's interest in a seat on the select committee is likely to create a new irritant for the lawmakers who hope to get to the bottom of the attack on the US Capitol. Jim Acosta And Alexander Hunter, CNN, 26 June 2021 Ultra-Orthodox parties could prove a significant irritant for Mr. Bennett, given the narrow support for his government. Felicia Schwartz, WSJ, 15 June 2021 The chemical irritant left some of the officers coughing and having difficulty seeing. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, 19 May 2021 The agreement, which will cover the period from 2020 through 2025, will remove what the State Department official described as an unnecessary irritant in U.S.-South Korea relations. Michael R. Gordon, WSJ, 10 Mar. 2021 Today: Another sunny day, but the main irritant will be windy weather as winds blow from the northwest at 10 to 15 mph with occasional gusts of 20 to 25 mph. Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2020 The chief irritant of the show is the knee-jerk splicing of the dramatic action with cable-news footage documenting Comey’s no-good, very bad time in the Administration. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, 28 Sep. 2020 Officers threw canisters that released a harsh irritant into the air. oregonlive, 23 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The video has been played in federal court at hearings for men charged with assaulting Sicknick by spraying a chemical irritant. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2021 Two men are accused of assaulting Sicknick by spraying a powerful chemical irritant at him during the siege. Peter Hermann, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Apr. 2021 Some of the bar patrons fought with police, including a person who used a large stick to hit an officer while another person sprayed chemical irritant at the officers, according to Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, 19 May 2021 Two men have already been arrested for allegedly assaulting Sicknick during the riot by spraying a chemical irritant into his eyes and face, though they have not been charged with homicide. Rachel Sandler, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2021 The sight of the school is a daily irritant for Mr. Ryburn and others in Angelus. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, 10 June 2021 Residents have looked outside their windows as protesters clash with law enforcement officers who have used the chemical irritant as well as stun grenades and other nonlethal munitions to control the demonstrators. Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2021 At least nine people who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 died during or after the rioting, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed after he was sprayed by rioters with a chemical irritant. Michael Kunzelman,, 6 Aug. 2021 Hodges said rioters bashed his head, kicked him in the chest, and sprayed him with a chemical irritant during the riot, among other assaults. Sarah Elbeshbishi, USA TODAY, 27 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'irritant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of irritant


1802, in the meaning defined above


1636, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for irritant

Time Traveler

The first known use of irritant was in 1636

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Dictionary Entries Near irritant



irritant clause

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Statistics for irritant

Last Updated

23 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Irritant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for irritant



English Language Learners Definition of irritant

: something that makes part of your body sore and painful
: something that is unpleasant or annoying : something that irritates you


ir·​ri·​tant | \ ˈir-ə-tənt How to pronounce irritant (audio) \

Kids Definition of irritant

1 : something that is annoying
2 : something that causes soreness or sensitivity


ir·​ri·​tant | \ ˈir-ə-tənt How to pronounce irritant (audio) \

Medical Definition of irritant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: causing irritation specifically : tending to produce inflammation



Medical Definition of irritant (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that irritates or excites specifically : an agent by which irritation is produced a chemical irritant

More from Merriam-Webster on irritant

Nglish: Translation of irritant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of irritant for Arabic Speakers


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