vexed also vext ˈvekst How to pronounce vex (audio) ; vexing

transitive verb

: to bring trouble, distress, or agitation to
the restaurant is vexed by slow service
: to bring physical distress to
a headache vexed him all morning
: to irritate or annoy by petty provocations : harass
vexed by the children
: puzzle, baffle
a problem to vex the keenest wit
: to shake or toss about
Choose the Right Synonym for vex

annoy, vex, irk, bother mean to upset a person's composure.

annoy implies a wearing on the nerves by persistent petty unpleasantness.

their constant complaining annoys us

vex implies greater provocation and stronger disturbance and usually connotes anger but sometimes perplexity or anxiety.

vexed by her son's failure to clean his room

irk stresses difficulty in enduring and the resulting weariness or impatience of spirit.

careless waste irks the boss

bother suggests interference with comfort or peace of mind.

don't bother me while I'm reading

Examples of vex in a Sentence

This problem has vexed researchers for years. We were vexed by the delay.
Recent Examples on the Web The requirement has vexed cities like New York, where thousands of people have taken refuge in shelters, straining the system. Michael D. Shear, New York Times, 8 Sep. 2023 History’s Belle was a grim opportunist; Ms. Kielland’s fictional Bella is a more complicated figure: vexed by problematic theology and suffering the legacy of brutal abuse. Tom Nolan, WSJ, 11 Aug. 2023 The Yankees, star-centric and forever vexed by the fringes of their roster, are tied for last place in the American League East. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 17 July 2023 Determining who killed them, and why, has vexed a slew of seasoned homicide detectives through several changes in police leadership. Michael Balsamo and Jake Offenhartz, Chicago Tribune, 14 July 2023 In particular, a set of questions about the writer—concerning identity, authorship, legitimacy—has vexed readers for centuries. Willard Spiegelman, WSJ, 8 Sep. 2023 The lagging return is vexing leaders from city halls to the Oval Office as downtowns struggle to rebound from the pandemic. Taylor Telford, Anchorage Daily News, 3 Sep. 2023 But their partnership soured after Mr. Siegel became vexed by Warner’s extravagant corporate culture and invoked an earlier agreement between Warner and Chris-Craft that delayed the Time-Warner merger until 1989. Sam Roberts,, 11 Aug. 2023 Thomas had apparently vexed Gardiner by exiting the podium to the wrong side, a grievous enough error to send the conductor into a deferred rage backstage. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French vexer, from Latin vexare to agitate, harry; probably akin to Latin vehere to convey — more at way

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near vex

Cite this Entry

“Vex.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


vexed also vext; vexing
: to bring trouble, distress, or worry to
vexed by thoughts of what could have been
: to annoy continually with little irritations
vexed by the children

More from Merriam-Webster on vex

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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