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[ag-uh-nee] /ˈæg ə ni/
noun, plural agonies.
extreme and generally prolonged pain; intense physical or mental suffering.
a display or outburst of intense mental or emotional excitement:
an agony of joy.
the struggle preceding natural death:
mortal agony.
a violent struggle.
(often initial capital letter) Theology. the sufferings of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane.
Origin of agony
1350-1400; Middle English agonye (< Anglo-French) < Late Latin agōnia < Greek, equivalent to agṓn agon + -ia -y3
1. anguish, torment, torture. 2. paroxysm.
1. comfort, ease, pleasure.
Synonym Study
1. See pain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for agonies
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Sidney's half-days at home were occasions for agonies of jealousy on Carlotta's part.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Officious kindness, which often soothes the agonies of death, was denied her.

  • It is an old trick to say that poets are mad,—you mistake our agonies for insanity.

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • On what agonies of creative and original minds is the safety of their homes based?

    Albert Durer T. Sturge Moore
  • It had been made in agonies of hunger and thirst, which had nearly robbed him of his life.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson
  • Two agonies have you undergone already, and I am inclined to mercy.

    The Tavern Knight Rafael Sabatini
  • "Deride the agonies of Gian Maria," answered Francesco, with a laugh.

    Love-at-Arms Raphael Sabatini
  • The agonies of his frost-bites were terrible, but the pangs of hunger were greater.

    The Hound From The North Ridgwell Cullum
British Dictionary definitions for agonies


noun (pl) -nies
acute physical or mental pain; anguish
the suffering or struggle preceding death
(Brit, informal) pile on the agony, put on the agony, turn on the agony, to exaggerate one's distress for sympathy or greater effect
(modifier) relating to or advising on personal problems about which people have written to the media: agony column, agony writer
Word Origin
C14: via Late Latin from Greek agōnia struggle, from agōn contest
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 agonies



late 14c., "mental suffering" (especially that of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane), from Old French agonie, agoine "anguish, terror, death agony" (14c.), and directly from Late Latin agonia, from Greek agonia "a (mental) struggle for victory," originally "a struggle for victory in the games," from agon "assembly for a contest," from agein "to lead" (see act (n.)). Sense of "extreme bodily suffering" first recorded c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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