[ aj-i-teyt ]
/ ˈædʒ ɪˌteɪt /
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See synonyms for: agitate / agitated / agitating / agitable on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), ag·i·tat·ed, ag·i·tat·ing.
verb (used without object), ag·i·tat·ed, ag·i·tat·ing.
to arouse or attempt to arouse public interest and support, as in some political or social cause or theory: to agitate for the repeal of a tax.
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Origin of agitate

1580–90; <Latin agitātus (past participle of agitāre to set in motion), equivalent to ag- (root of agere to drive) + -it- frequentative suffix + -ātus-ate1


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does agitate mean?

To agitate someone is to make them feel anxious, bothered, or worried. Someone who feels this way can be described as agitated. Things that make you feel this way can be described as agitating.

To agitate something is to shake it up, stir it up, or cause it to move around roughly, as in The storm agitated the water, stirring up huge waves. 

The noun agitation refers to the act or process of agitating in this way. It also commonly refers to the state or feeling of being agitated, as in There is a lot of agitation among the employees who have not yet been paid. 

The verb agitate is also used in a more specific way to mean to attempt to promote support or opposition for a political or social cause, especially by repeatedly raising the issue and bringing awareness to it. The act of doing this can be called agitation, and a person who does this can be called an agitator.

Example: The cable news channel blaring in the waiting room really agitates me—they really shouldn’t have that around people who are about to get their blood pressure taken.

Where does agitate come from?

The first records of the word agitate come from the late 1500s. It comes from the Latin verb agitāre, meaning “to set in motion.”

In most of its senses, agitate involves stirring things up or setting things in motion in a way that’s a bit messy or turbulent. When you get agitated, your emotions get stirred up by something that’s frustrating, annoying, or stressful. When physical things are agitated, they are literally stirred up—the part of a washing machine that agitates the clothes (spins them around in the water) is called an agitator. Agitate in a political context involves stirring things up to make a change, especially in a way that’s a little controversial.

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What are some words that often get used in discussing agitate?

How is agitate used in real life?

When it involves feelings of anxiousness, agitate is typically used in negative situations. When it refers to political activity, agitate usually implies that there is controversy or contentiousness involved.



Try using agitate!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of agitate?

A. disturb
B. perturb
C. fluster
D. calm

How to use agitate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for agitate

/ (ˈædʒɪˌteɪt) /

(tr) to excite, disturb, or trouble (a person, the mind, or feelings); worry
(tr) to cause to move vigorously; shake, stir, or disturb
(intr; often foll by for or against) to attempt to stir up public opinion for or against something
(tr) to discuss or debate in order to draw attention to or gain support for (a cause, etc)to agitate a political cause

Derived forms of agitate

agitated, adjectiveagitatedly, adverb

Word Origin for agitate

C16: from Latin agitātus, from agitāre to move to and fro, set into motion, from agere to act, do
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