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.

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 agonize

Contemporary Examples of agonize

Historical Examples of agonize

  • I might agonize in words for a day and I should not express the delight.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • May we know a little better what it is to agonize in prayer.

    The Assembly of God

    C. (Charles) H. (Henry) Mackintosh

  • And this seething life, the turmoil and the noises of the city, agonize me.

  • Some must agonize and spend their strength unavailingly, like birds beating their wings against the bars of a cage for freedom.

  • Never again shall he agonize in Gethsemane, and sweat great drops of blood.

British Dictionary definitions for agonize




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 agonize

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