an·​tag·​o·​nism | \ an-ˈta-gə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce antagonism (audio) \

Definition of antagonism

1a : opposition of a conflicting force, tendency, or principle the antagonism of democracy to dictatorship
b : actively expressed opposition or hostility antagonism between factions personal antagonism
2 : opposition in physiological action especially : interaction of two or more substances such that the action of any one of them on living cells or tissues is lessened

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Choose the Right Synonym for antagonism

enmity, hostility, antipathy, antagonism, animosity, rancor, animus mean deep-seated dislike or ill will. enmity suggests positive hatred which may be open or concealed. an unspoken enmity hostility suggests an enmity showing itself in attacks or aggression. hostility between the two nations antipathy and antagonism imply a natural or logical basis for one's hatred or dislike, antipathy suggesting repugnance, a desire to avoid or reject, and antagonism suggesting a clash of temperaments leading readily to hostility. a natural antipathy for self-seekers antagonism between the brothers animosity suggests intense ill will and vindictiveness that threaten to kindle hostility. animosity that led to revenge rancor is especially applied to bitter brooding over a wrong. rancor filled every line of his letters animus adds to animosity the implication of strong prejudice. objections devoid of personal animus

Examples of antagonism in a Sentence

The region has a long history of ethnic antagonisms. the antagonism between them was so bad they couldn't even sit near each other
Recent Examples on the Web Scientology has perpetuated Hubbard’s antagonism toward psychiatry. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 9 Aug. 2021 The Administration immediately began planning for an Earth Day climate summit to bring world leaders together and show that the U.S. was back in the climate conversation after years of the Trump Administration’s antagonism on the issue. Justin Worland, Time, 20 Sep. 2021 But Taiwan and China have co-existed in intense but bloodless antagonism for seven decades without tipping into real war. George Calhoun, Forbes, 12 Sep. 2021 China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, warned Kerry on Wednesday that antagonism from the U.S. on those and other fronts could hobble climate cooperation. Arkansas Online, 3 Sep. 2021 On Wednesday, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, warned Kerry that antagonism from the United States on those and other fronts could hobble climate cooperation., 2 Sep. 2021 With his strong mandate, there is little indication Bolsonaro plans to back down from his trademark far-right tirades, or from his longstanding antagonism towards Brazil’s human rights community. Juliana Koch, Philip Wang And Rodrigo Pedroso, CNN, 5 Aug. 2021 The story’s big bro–baby bro antagonism — based on flashbacks to boyhood family tragedy — is laughable. Armond White, National Review, 25 June 2021 Fortunately, a reprieve has been granted with a return to the not-so-friendly confines of league antagonism. Evan Dudley, al, 15 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antagonism.' 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 antagonism

1716, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for antagonism

see antagonize

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Time Traveler for antagonism

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The first known use of antagonism was in 1716

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Antagonism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of antagonism

: a strong feeling of dislike or hatred : a desire to oppose something you dislike or disagree with


an·​tag·​o·​nism | \ an-ˈta-gə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce antagonism (audio) \

Kids Definition of antagonism

: a strong feeling of dislike or disagreement


an·​tag·​o·​nism | \ an-ˈtag-ə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce antagonism (audio) \

Medical Definition of antagonism

: opposition in physiological action:
a : opposing action in the effect of contraction of muscles (as the extensors and flexors of a part)
b : interaction of two or more substances such that the action of any one of them on living cells or tissues is lessened (as by interference with the uptake or by an opposing physiological reaction) — compare synergism

More from Merriam-Webster on antagonism

Nglish: Translation of antagonism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of antagonism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about antagonism


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