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[aj-i-tey-ter] /ˈædʒ ɪˌteɪ tər/
a person who stirs up others in order to upset the status quo and further a political, social, or other cause:
The boss said he would fire any union agitators.
a machine or device for agitating and mixing.
Origin of agitator
First recorded in 1730-40; agitate + -or2
Related forms
[aj-i-tuh-tawr-ee-uh l, -tohr-] /ˌædʒ ɪ təˈtɔr i əl, -ˈtoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for agitators
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some of the agitators whispered, "He will be off, he will escape from us!"

    The Black Tulip Alexandre Dumas (Pere)
  • In the summer of 1914 the dreams of these agitators were realized.

  • "If these agitators on the Left have any qualities of statesmen, now's their time to show it," he said.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • If they hate England it is because they have been so taught by priests and agitators for their own ends.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • Flynn and Jacobi, the men Peter had sent away, were radicals and agitators.

    The Vagrant Duke George Gibbs
  • Naomi says it's the London agitators who have done it all,' said Sarah.

    Sarah's School Friend

    May Baldwin
  • This gave the loyalists a complete roster of the agitators' names.

  • The British, therefore, were the most persistent and energetic of the agitators.

    The War in South Africa

    Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for agitators


a person who agitates for or against a cause, etc
a device, machine, or part used for mixing, shaking, or vibrating a material, usually a fluid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for agitators



1640s, agent noun from agitate (v.); originally "elected representative of the common soldiers in Cromwell's army," who brought grievances (chiefly over lack of pay) to their officers and Parliament.

Political sense is first recorded 1734, and negative overtones began with its association with Irish patriots such as Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847). Historically, in American English, often with outside and referring to people who stir up a supposedly contented class or race. Latin agitator meant "a driver, a charioteer."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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