• synonyms


[ ag-uh-nahyz ]
/ ˈæg əˌnaɪz /

verb (used without object), ag·o·nized, ag·o·niz·ing.

to suffer extreme pain or anguish; be in agony.
to put forth great effort of any kind.

verb (used with object), ag·o·nized, ag·o·niz·ing.

to distress with extreme pain; torture.

Nearby words

agones, agonic, agonic line, agonist, agonistic, agonize, agonized, agonizing, agony, agony aunt, agony column
Also especially British, ag·o·nise.

Origin of agonize

1575–85; < Medieval Latin agōnizāre < Greek agōnízesthai to struggle (for a prize), equivalent to agōn- agon + -izesthai -ize Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for agonise

  • Othello must not agonise for a cloak, but ‘the little orphan Alice Fell’ has nothing else to agonise for.

    Oxford Lectures on Poetry|Andrew Cecil Bradley
  • No one can make me believe that it is to be ascribed to this scandalous Government, under which we agonise.

    The Last Hope|Henry Seton Merriman
  • His exhortation and command rather is, “Strive”—“knock”—agonise to “enter in!”

    Memories of Bethany|John Ross Macduff
  • If we agonise that we and our descendants may rise, life is worth living.

    Life of Charles Darwin|G. T. (George Thomas) Bettany

British Dictionary definitions for agonise



/ (ˈæɡəˌnaɪz) /


to suffer or cause to suffer agony
(intr) to make a desperate effort; struggle; strive
Derived Formsagonizingly or agonisingly, adverb

Word Origin for agonize

C16: via Medieval Latin from Greek agōnizesthai to contend for a prize, from agōn agon
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 agonise



1580s, "to torture," from Middle French agoniser or directly from Medieval Latin agonizare, from Greek agonizesthai "to contend in the struggle" (see agony). Intransitive sense of "to suffer physical pain" is recorded from 1660s. That of "to worry intensely" is from 1853. Related: Agonized; agonizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper