antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ an-ˈta-gə-nist How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Essential Meaning of antagonist

: a person who opposes another person He faced his antagonist [=(more commonly) opponent, adversary] in a series of debates.

Full Definition of antagonist

1 : one that contends with or opposes another : adversary, opponent political antagonists
2 : an agent of physiological antagonism: such as
a : a muscle that contracts with and limits the action of an agonist with which it is paired

called also antagonistic muscle

b : a chemical that acts within the body to reduce the physiological activity of another chemical substance (such as an opiate) especially : one that opposes the action on the nervous system of a drug or a substance occurring naturally in the body by combining with and blocking its nervous receptor — compare agonist sense 2b

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Synonyms & Antonyms for antagonist

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On the stage or screen, in a story or a novel, the protagonist is the main character and the antagonist is the opposing one. Pro- and ant- usually mark the good and bad characters, but not always; there may occasionally be an evil protagonist and a good antagonist. In the drama of the real world, it's especially hard to sort out which is which, so we usually speak of both parties to a conflict as antagonists. During a strike, for example, representatives of labor and management become antagonists; they often manage to antagonize each other, and the antagonism often remains after the strike is over.

Examples of antagonist in a Sentence

They are interested in character first, and in Don, a foul-mouthed psychopath with a hair-trigger temper and buried longings for Gal's wife, they have created a truly scary antagonist. — David Ansen, Newsweek, 18 June 2001 In the 1970s researchers discovered that the actions of estrogen and other hormones can be blocked chemically by drugs called hormone antagonists — David Plotkin, Atlantic, June 1996 If the new comptroller is a true antagonist of the seamy bond market practices he decried in the campaign, why has he installed as his first deputy the public finance director from the Dinkins administration who was Holtzman's accomplice in each of those deals. — Wayne Barrett, Village Voice, March 1994 As in that film, Kopple not only draws an intimate portrait of the protagonists and antagonists in the strike, but also deftly locates the workers' struggle within a broad context of economic and political forces. — Frank Thompson, Film Comment, January/February 1991 please name the novel's hero and his antagonist his antagonist in the boxing match
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Recent Examples on the Web Tuesday, the preview features Wes Craven’s iconic horror-film antagonist terrorizing people who were related to the subversive franchise’s original killers. Nardine Saad Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2021 Dornick and the clone-emperors are creations for the TV series, and both are attempts to shoehorn some straightforward protagonist/antagonist motivation into the story. Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, 24 Sep. 2021 Indeed, this discovery led to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency to approve esketamine, an NMDA antagonist for treatment-resistant depression, in 2019. Husseini Manji, Scientific American, 14 Sep. 2021 There are glimpses of cyber-goons similar to Hugo Weaving's old antagonist Agent Smith, but who's the big bad this time around? Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2021 One promising early antagonist is the late President’s unctuous daughter, Kimberly, played marvelously against type by Amber Tamblyn. Judy Berman, Time, 8 Sep. 2021 Unconvinced by Kang’s explanations, Sylvie betrays Loki and kills the show’s main antagonist. Chris Hachey, BGR, 18 Aug. 2021 Among the recurring characters was the troupe’s first antagonist, Uncle Fatso, whose roles included a slumlord and allegorical representations of Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon. New York Times, 11 Aug. 2021 In legends, the protagonist is supposed to vanquish the antagonist. Michael Azerrad, The New Yorker, 22 Sep. 2021

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

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for antagonist

see antagonize

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Time Traveler for antagonist

Time Traveler

The first known use of antagonist was in 1555

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Dictionary Entries Near antagonist

antagonism

antagonist

antagonistic

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Statistics for antagonist

Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Antagonist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antagonist. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for antagonist

antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ an-ˈta-gə-nəst How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Kids Definition of antagonist

: a person who is against something or someone else : opponent

antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ -nəst How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Medical Definition of antagonist

: an agent that acts in physiological opposition contact between a tooth and its antagonist in the opposing jaw : as
a : a muscle that contracts with and limits the action of an agonist with which it is paired

called also antagonistic muscle

— compare agonist sense 1, synergist sense 2
b : a chemical that acts within the body to reduce the physiological activity of another chemical substance (as an opiate) especially : one that opposes the action on the nervous system of a drug or a substance occurring naturally in the body by combining with and blocking its nervous receptor — compare agonist sense 2

More from Merriam-Webster on antagonist

Nglish: Translation of antagonist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of antagonist for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about antagonist

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