[ aj-i-tey-shuhn ]
/ ˌædʒ ɪˈteɪ ʃən /
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the act or process of agitating; state of being agitated: She left in great agitation.
persistent urging of a political or social cause or theory before the public.
Also called psychomotor agitation. psychological and physical restlessness, manifested by pacing, hand-wringing, or other activity, sometimes occurring as a symptom of severe depression, schizophrenia, or other mental disorder.
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Origin of agitation

1560–70; <Latin agitātiōn- (stem of agitātiō); see agitate, -ion

synonym study for agitation

1. Agitation, disturbance, excitement, turmoil imply inner unrest, uneasiness, or apprehension. Agitation implies a shaken state of emotions, usually perceptible in the face or movements: With evident agitation she opened the telegram. Disturbance implies an inner disquiet caused by worry, indecision, apprehension, or the like: Long-continued mental disturbance is a cause of illness. Excitement implies a highly emotional state caused by either agreeable or distressing circumstances: excitement over a proposed trip, unexpected good news, a fire. Turmoil suggests such a struggle or conflict of emotions that one is unable to think consecutively: Her thoughts were in a hopeless turmoil.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does agitation mean?

Agitation is the state or feeling of being agitated—anxious, bothered, or worried, as in There is a lot of agitation among the employees who have not yet been paid. 

It also commonly refers to the act or process of agitatingshaking up, stirring up, or causing something to move around roughly, as in The agitation of the water by strong winds has caused it to become very choppy. 

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: You could hear Mom’s agitation growing with each additional time she asked Tim to take out the garbage.

Where does agitation come from?

The first records of the word agitation come from around the mid-1500s. It ultimately comes from the Latin verb agitāre, meaning “to set in motion.” The suffix -ion indicates an action or condition.

In most of its senses, agitation involves stirring things up or setting things in motion in a way that’s a bit messy or turbulent. The feeling of agitation involves your emotions being stirred up by something that’s frustrating, annoying, or stressful. The agitation of physical things usually involves them being literally stirred up, such as the ocean being stirred up by storm. Agitation in a political context involves stirring things up to make a change, especially in a way that’s a little controversial.

In psychology, psychomotor agitation is a symptom of some psychological disorders that involves physical restlessness, including things like pacing and handwringing.

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What are some other forms related to agitation?

  • agitational (adjective)
  • overagitation (noun)
  • agitate (verb)

What are some synonyms for agitation?

What are some words that share a root or word element with agitation

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


How is agitation used in real life?

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


Try using agitation!

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

A. disturbance
B. turbulence
C. unrest
D. peace

How to use agitation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for agitation

/ (ˌædʒɪˈteɪʃən) /

a state of excitement, disturbance, or worry
the act of moving something vigorously; the shaking or stirring of something
the act of attempting to stir up public opinion for or against something

Derived forms of agitation

agitational, adjective
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