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[ang-gwish] /ˈæŋ gwɪʃ/
excruciating or acute distress, suffering, or pain:
the anguish of grief.
verb (used with object)
to inflict with distress, suffering, or pain.
verb (used without object)
to suffer, feel, or exhibit anguish:
to anguish over the loss of a loved one.
Origin of anguish
1175-1225; Middle English anguisse < Old French < Latin angustia tight place, equivalent to angust(us) narrow + -ia -ia; cf. anxious; akin to anger
1. agony, torment, torture.
1. delight, comfort, relief.
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 anguish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We learn nothing, we take no forward step, except as we are whipped to it by anguish.

  • There was anguish in the cry torn from the girl's throat in the sudden access of despair.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Twice she cried in anguish to Allis that she must go in; must see her husband.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Her anguish was redoubled by this mysterious and inexplicable struggle within her.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • His loss had the bitterness of defeat, with the anguish of a baffled passion.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for anguish


extreme pain or misery; mental or physical torture; agony
to afflict or be afflicted with anguish
Word Origin
C13: from Old French angoisse a strangling, from Latin angustia narrowness, from angustus narrow
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 anguish

c.1200, "acute bodily or mental suffering," from Old French anguisse, angoisse "choking sensation, distress, anxiety, rage," from Latin angustia (plural angustiae) "tightness, straitness, narrowness;" figuratively "distress, difficulty," from ang(u)ere "to throttle, torment" (see anger (v.)).


early 14c., intransitive and reflexive; mid-14c., transitive, from Old French anguissier (Modern French angoisser), from anguisse (see anguish (n.)). Related: Anguished; anguishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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