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See more synonyms for agonizing on Thesaurus.com
  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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Origin of agonizing

First recorded in 1660–70; agonize + -ing2
Related formsag·o·niz·ing·ly, adverb


verb (used without object), ag·o·nized, ag·o·niz·ing.
  1. to suffer extreme pain or anguish; be in agony.
  2. to put forth great effort of any kind.
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verb (used with object), ag·o·nized, ag·o·niz·ing.
  1. to distress with extreme pain; torture.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for agonizing



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

Word Origin

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 agonizing



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper