• synonyms


  1. combative; striving to overcome in argument.
  2. straining for effect: agonistic humor.
  3. of or relating to ancient Greek athletic contests.
  4. Ethology. pertaining to the range of activities associated with aggressive encounters between members of the same species, including threat, attack, appeasement, or retreat.
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Also ag·o·nis·ti·cal.

Origin of agonistic

1640–50; < Greek agōnistikós, equivalent to agōnist(ḗs) agonist + -ikos -ic
Related formsag·o·nis·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for agonistic

Historical Examples

  • These actions have been emancipated from incomplete take-offs and incorporated in ritualized courtship and agonistic behavior.

    Natural History of the Bell Vireo, Vireo bellii Audubon

    Jon C. Barlow

  • According to Aristotle himself, therefore, the Dialectician is agonistic and eristic, just as much as the Sophist.


    George Grote

  • Moreover, most of the burrows were only a few feet apart and no agonistic behavior was witnessed.

British Dictionary definitions for agonistic


  1. striving for effect; strained
  2. eager to win in discussion or argument; competitive
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Word Origin

C17: via Late Latin from Greek agōnistikos, 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