aggravate

[ ag-ruh-veyt ]
/ ˈæg rəˌveɪt /

verb (used with object), ag·gra·vat·ed, ag·gra·vat·ing.

to make worse or more severe; intensify, as anything evil, disorderly, or troublesome: to aggravate a grievance; to aggravate an illness.
to annoy; irritate; exasperate: His questions aggravate her.
to cause to become irritated or inflamed: The child's constant scratching aggravated the rash.

Origin of aggravate

1425–75; late Middle English < Latin aggravātus (past participle of aggravāre), equivalent to ag- ag- + grav- (see grave2) + -ātus -ate1; cf. aggrieve

Related forms

Can be confused

aggravate annoy irritateaggravate intensify worsen (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonym study

1. Aggravate, intensify both mean to increase in degree. To aggravate is to make more serious or more grave: to aggravate a danger, an offense, a wound. To intensify is perceptibly to increase intensity, force, energy, vividness, etc.: to intensify heat, color, rage.

Usage note

The two most common senses of aggravate are “to make worse” and “to annoy or exasperate.” Both senses first appeared in the early 17th century at almost the same time; the corresponding two senses of the noun aggravation also appeared then. Both senses of aggravate and aggravation have been standard since then. The use of aggravate to mean “annoy” is sometimes objected to because it departs from the etymological meaning “to make heavier,” and in formal speech and writing the sense “annoy” is somewhat less frequent than “to make worse.” The noun aggravation meaning “annoyance” occurs in all types of speech and writing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for aggravate

British Dictionary definitions for aggravate

aggravate

/ (ˈæɡrəˌveɪt) /

verb (tr)

to make (a disease, situation, problem, etc) worse or more severe
informal to annoy; exasperate, esp by deliberate and persistent goading

Derived Forms

aggravating, adjectiveaggravation, noun

Word Origin for aggravate

C16: from Latin aggravāre to make heavier, from gravis heavy
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