View synonyms for agonizing


[ ag-uh-nahy-zing ]


  1. accompanied by, filled with, or resulting in agony or distress:

    We spent an agonizing hour waiting to hear if the accident had been serious or not.

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Other Words From

  • ago·nizing·ly adverb
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Word History and Origins

Origin of agonizing1

First recorded in 1660–70; agonize + -ing 2
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Example Sentences

Unlike the movies, where the protagonist always has a witty comeback to make a fool out of a bigot or a bully, I had countless agonizing memories of times I wished I would have said or handled things differently.

It took the two men 45 agonizing minutes to uncover her face, which was blue and unresponsive.

It has forced waiters and bartenders to revert to their agonizing role as public-health enforcers.

The chronicles that detail what happened before that date were the result of an agonizing memory exercise like this one.

So, of course stretch however it benefits you, but remember that if you are experiencing agonizing pain, it’s far more likely to be doing harm than it is to be doing good.

He makes his way, step by agonizing step, his face red and wheezing, his eyes straight ahead.

And we all know how long Rick has spent agonizing over how much of his old self to give up in order to stay alive.

What followed was an agonizing spectacle that ended when Lockett died at 7.06 p.m.—43 minutes after the drugs began to flow.

It catalogues a massive but doomed police investigation through its agonizing near-misses and mistaken hunches.

He was too busy riding shotgun on stagecoaches through the Sierras to sit at a desk agonizing over adverbs.

It was not until all the boxes and parcels must have arrived in the Condamine, that an agonizing thought struck Hugh.

Between agonizing moments, she chatted a little, and said it took her mind off her sufferings.

Isabel's brain seemed to eliminate every thought it had ever possessed and hurriedly to remodel down to one agonizing point.

He turned and suddenly broke into agonizing sobs and then ran down the steps.

He himself was insupportably aware of her, as she sat, doomed and agonizing, in her chair at the head of Brodrick's table.


Related Words

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More About Agonizing

What does agonizing mean?

Agonizing means filled with or resulting in agony—extreme pain or suffering, especially the kind that lasts for a long time. A close synonym is excruciating.

Agony can be physical or emotional, and things that are agonizing can involve physical or emotional pain. A person who has just broken their leg and a person who has just experienced the death of a loved one could both be said to be in agonizing pain. To suffer an agonizing death is to experience an extremely painful one. An agonizing decision is one that is very hard to make due to being emotionally painful in some way.

Agonizing is also the continuous tense (-ing form) of the verb agonize, which can mean to be in agony. However, it most commonly means to put forth a great effort—to struggle or strive, as in She’s been agonizing about what to get you for your birthday. 

Example: She’s down and appears to be in agonizing pain—the trainers are coming onto the field now to help her.

Where does agonizing come from?

The first records of the word agonizing come from the 1500s. Its base word, agonize, comes from the Greek verb agōnízesthai, meaning “to struggle,” from agōn, “contest.”

Agonizing is typically used to describe things that involve intense pain or suffering, but sometimes it’s used in an exaggerated way. For example, describing a wait as agonizing usually means that it’s very long and hard to sit through—but not actually painful. Some waits can be truly emotionally agonizing, though—such as a wait to receive serious medical test results.

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What are some other forms related to agonizing?

What are some synonyms for agonizing?

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


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

How is agonizing used in real life?

Agonizing is commonly used to describe both intense physical and emotional pain.



Try using agonizing!

Is agonizing used correctly in the following sentence? 

The decision to lay off some of my employees was agonizing, but I wouldn’t have been able to stay in business otherwise.