View synonyms for agitator


[ aj-i-tey-ter ]


  1. a person who stirs up others in order to upset the status quo and further a political, social, or other cause:

    The boss said he would fire any union agitators.

  2. a machine or device for agitating and mixing.


/ ˈædʒɪˌteɪtə /


  1. a person who agitates for or against a cause, etc
  2. a device, machine, or part used for mixing, shaking, or vibrating a material, usually a fluid
“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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Other Words From

  • ag·i·ta·to·ri·al [aj-i-t, uh, -, tawr, -ee-, uh, l, -, tohr, -], adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of agitator1

First recorded in 1730–40; agitate + -or 2
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Example Sentences

For decades, the fondest hope of the kind of agitators attracted by this annual event has been a Republican president who shares the breadth of their grievance, the depth of their anger and the fervor of their conspiratorial delusions.

These include the nature and severity of the alleged crime and whether the suspect is resisting arrest, as well as the “presence of hostile crowd or agitators.”

Most of these agitators — many of whom broadcasted the riot live from their phones or uploaded selfies on Facebook — made no effort to mask their identity.

From Vox

The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but outbreaks of violence, much of it attributed to agitators more intent on destruction than protest, resulted in hundreds of arrests after nights of set fires, looted stores and clashes with police.

Earlier this year, Manassas was the site of several protests over police brutality that drew several hundred demonstrators, including one protest where agitators threw objects at police officers.

She might be young for a parliamentarian at 31, but she is no naïve agitator.

As an agitator of stereotypes, how did you feel about The Birth of a Nation?

When they meet again, Kramer is a union agitator preparing for a massive general strike that will be the story's dramatic apex.

Barack Hussein Obama” is nothing more than a “low-level socialist agitator.

Her role in general, though, has shifted from “outside agitator to inside agitator opponent,” she jokes.

One of the principal grounds in this change is to be found in the connection of government with the agitator O'Connell.

The distinction of these classes was marked out by money-payments; for it was the "rent" to which the agitator was mainly looking.

It is probable that the bill would have been lost without the support of the Irish liberals, led by the agitator.

There he became not only a rhetorician, a revolutionary agitator, but a really great painter.

But Cobden's parliamentary work was at this time less important than his work as an agitator.


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More About Agitator

What does agitator mean?

An agitator is someone who attempts to promote support or opposition for a political or social cause, especially by repeatedly raising the issue and bringing awareness to it.

To do this is to agitate, and the act of doing this can be called agitation. Both words are much more commonly used in more general ways. The verb agitate more commonly means to make someone feel anxious or to stir something up, like how a storm agitates the ocean.

Calling someone an agitator often implies that they are trying to stir things up and change the status quo, especially in a way that’s controversial. People who intend to do this might call themselves agitators. However, the word agitator is often used in a negative way, perhaps implying that such a person only intends to cause trouble. A more negative synonym for agitator is provocateur. A more positive or neutral synonym is activist.

The word agitator is also used in another very specific but unrelated way, as a name for a machine part whose function is agitating or mixing. This sense of the word is most commonly used to refer to part of a washing machine that agitates the clothes (spins them around in the water).

Example: He has spent years as a prominent antiwar agitator, protesting the proliferation of the military-industrial complex.

Where does agitator come from?

The first records of the word agitator come from the 1600s. It ultimately comes from the Latin verb agitāre, meaning “to set in motion.” The suffix -or is used to indicate a person who performs the action of the verb specified in the first part of the word—a person who agitates.

In a social and political context, an agitator is someone who attempts to stir things up, set movements in motion, and continue to raise awareness and support in order to make some kind of change.

In washing machines, the agitator helps to stir the clothes around in order to help clean them by rubbing the dirt off. More recently, many washing machines are designed without agitators, relying on other methods to get clothes clean.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to agitator?

  • agitatorial (adjective)
  • agitate (verb)

What are some synonyms for agitator?

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

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


How is agitator used in real life?

Agitator is typically used in the context of political and social movements and the people trying to start and sustain them. It’s often used in a critical way.


Try using agitator!

True or False? 

Calling someone an agitator usually implies that they are trying to maintain the status quo.