noun, plural ag·o·nies.

extreme and generally prolonged pain; intense physical or mental suffering.
a display or outburst of intense mental or emotional excitement: an agony of joy.
the struggle preceding natural death: mortal agony.
a violent struggle.
(often initial capital letter) Theology. the sufferings of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane.

Origin of agony

1350–1400; Middle English agonye (< Anglo-French) < Late Latin agōnia < Greek, equivalent to agṓn agon + -ia -y3

Synonyms for agony

Synonym study

1. See pain.

Antonyms for agony Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for agonies

Contemporary Examples of agonies

Historical Examples of agonies

  • Sidney's half-days at home were occasions for agonies of jealousy on Carlotta's part.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Officious kindness, which often soothes the agonies of death, was denied her.

  • It is an old trick to say that poets are mad,—you mistake our agonies for insanity.

  • On what agonies of creative and original minds is the safety of their homes based?

    Albert Durer

    T. Sturge Moore

  • It had been made in agonies of hunger and thirst, which had nearly robbed him of his life.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson

British Dictionary definitions for agonies


noun plural -nies

acute physical or mental pain; anguish
the suffering or struggle preceding death
pile on the agony, put on the agony or turn on the agony British informal to exaggerate one's distress for sympathy or greater effect
(modifier) relating to or advising on personal problems about which people have written to the mediaagony column; agony writer

Word Origin for agony

C14: via Late Latin from Greek agōnia struggle, from agōn contest
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

Word Origin and History for agonies



late 14c., "mental suffering" (especially that of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane), from Old French agonie, agoine "anguish, terror, death agony" (14c.), and directly from Late Latin agonia, from Greek agonia "a (mental) struggle for victory," originally "a struggle for victory in the games," from agon "assembly for a contest," from agein "to lead" (see act (n.)). Sense of "extreme bodily suffering" first recorded c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper