ir·​ri·​tate | \ ˈir-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce irritate (audio) \
irritated; irritating

Definition of irritate

transitive verb

1 : to provoke impatience, anger, or displeasure in : annoy
2 : to induce irritability in or of

intransitive verb

: to cause or induce displeasure or irritation

Choose the Right Synonym for irritate

irritate, exasperate, nettle, provoke, rile, peeve mean to excite a feeling of anger or annoyance. irritate implies an often gradual arousing of angry feelings that may range from mere impatience to rage. constant nagging that irritated me greatly exasperate suggests galling annoyance and the arousing of extreme impatience. his exasperating habit of putting off needed decisions nettle suggests a sharp but passing annoyance or stinging. your pompous attitude nettled several people provoke implies an arousing of strong annoyance that may excite to action. remarks made solely to provoke her rile implies inducing an angry or resentful agitation. the new work schedules riled the employees peeve suggests arousing fretful often petty or querulous irritation. a toddler peeved at being refused a cookie

Examples of irritate in a Sentence

It's his arrogance that really irritates me. The other passengers were irritated by the child's rudeness. Harsh soaps can irritate the skin.
Recent Examples on the Web Mascaras specially formulated for sensitive eyes, which are less likely to irritate than traditional formulas. April Franzino, Good Housekeeping, 4 Aug. 2022 One might, as a result, be forgiven for believing that wasps have been placed on Earth for no other reason than to irritate. Adrian Woolfson, WSJ, 31 July 2022 That example is an outlier, though aerosol sunscreens formulated with chemicals that are safe to use on skin still have the potential to irritate your lungs when sprayed. Emily Rekstis, Allure, 27 July 2022 Observing the 35 mph limit on Corrine Drive through Audubon Park is a sure way to irritate other drivers. Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel, 5 July 2022 Everyday irritants, from dust to perfumes or gasoline, can irritate some peoples' throats, says Dr. Sataloff. Julie Stewart, Men's Health, 26 July 2022 This plant has flashy leaves—but the sap within contains crystals that can irritate mucous membranes. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 21 July 2022 This debate has come back to life in recent days with the Biden administration’s exploration of U.S.-China mutual tariff reductions, a move that would be an economic gain for both countries but would irritate those whose goal is irritation. Frank Lavin, Forbes, 5 July 2022 There are many substances that can irritate the bladder, and vitamins are on the list. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of irritate

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for irritate

Latin irritatus, past participle of irritare

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Time Traveler for irritate

Time Traveler

The first known use of irritate was in 1598

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Dictionary Entries Near irritate

irritant clause



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Statistics for irritate

Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Irritate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for irritate


ir·​ri·​tate | \ ˈir-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce irritate (audio) \
irritated; irritating

Kids Definition of irritate

1 : annoy His constant chatter irritates me.
2 : to make sensitive or sore The harsh soap irritated my skin.


ir·​ri·​tate | \ ˈir-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce irritate (audio) \
irritated; irritating

Medical Definition of irritate

transitive verb

1 : to provoke impatience, anger, or displeasure in
2 : to cause (an organ or tissue) to be irritable : produce irritation in harsh soaps may irritate the skin
3 : to produce excitation in (as a nerve) : cause (as a muscle) to contract

intransitive verb

: to induce irritation

More from Merriam-Webster on irritate

Nglish: Translation of irritate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of irritate for Arabic Speakers


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