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[ag-uh-nahyz] /ˈæg əˌnaɪz/
verb (used without object), agonized, agonizing.
to suffer extreme pain or anguish; be in agony.
to put forth great effort of any kind.
verb (used with object), agonized, agonizing.
to distress with extreme pain; torture.
Also, especially British, agonise.
Origin of agonize
1575-85; < Medieval Latin agōnizāre < Greek agōnízesthai to struggle (for a prize), equivalent to agōn- agon + -izesthai -ize Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for agonising
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His desire of life tormented him in a paroxysm of agonising remorse.

    Almayer's Folly Joseph Conrad
  • Fear, fear was clutching me, compressing me in an agonising grip.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service
  • It must be agonising to you, and there would be dishonour as well as pain to me, in witnessing that agony.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • In a moment more the agonising, hacking, rending cough came on.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • “That agonising pain in the back goes on too,” continued Bracy.

    Fix Bay'nets George Manville Fenn
  • For this imperious Voice is agonising for something and the drum is the beat of its heart.

    Margarita's Soul Ingraham Lovell
  • With what agonising tears we dismiss the stranger back to the angels!

    Zanoni Edward Bulwer Lytton
  • Latterly the wound had festered, and gave him agonising pain.

    The Lively Poll R.M. Ballantyne
  • As we have said, McCoy was smoking, perhaps we should say agonising, over his evening pipe.

    The Lonely Island R.M. Ballantyne
British Dictionary definitions for agonising


to suffer or cause to suffer agony
(intransitive) to make a desperate effort; struggle; strive
Derived Forms
agonizingly, agonisingly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: via Medieval Latin from Greek agōnizesthai to contend for a prize, from agōnagon
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 agonising



1580s, "to torture," from Middle French agoniser or directly from Medieval Latin agonizare, from Greek agonizesthai "to contend in the struggle" (see agony). Intransitive sense of "to suffer physical pain" is recorded from 1660s. That of "to worry intensely" is from 1853. Related: Agonized; agonizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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