causing irritation; annoying; provoking: irritating questions.

Origin of irritating

First recorded in 1700–10; irritate + -ing2
Related formsir·ri·tat·ing·ly, adverbnon·ir·ri·tat·ing, adjectiveun·ir·ri·tat·ing, adjective



verb (used with object), ir·ri·tat·ed, ir·ri·tat·ing.

to excite to impatience or anger; annoy.
Physiology, Biology. to excite (a living system) to some characteristic action or function.
Pathology. to bring (a body part) to an abnormally excited or sensitive condition.

verb (used without object), ir·ri·tat·ed, ir·ri·tat·ing.

to cause irritation or become irritated.

Origin of irritate

1525–35; < Latin irrītātus, past participle of irrītāre to arouse to anger, excite, aggravate, equivalent to irritā- v. stem + -tus past participle suffix
Related formsir·ri·ta·tor, noun
Can be confusedaggravate annoy irritate

Synonyms for irritate

Synonym study

1. Irritate, exasperate, provoke mean to annoy or stir to anger. To irritate is to excite to impatience or angry feeling, often of no great depth or duration: to irritate by refusing to explain an action. To exasperate is to irritate to a point where self-control is threatened or lost: to exasperate by continual delays and excuses. To provoke is to stir to a sudden, strong feeling of resentful anger as by unwarrantable acts or wanton annoyance: to tease and provoke an animal until it attacks. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for irritating

disturbing, annoying, bothersome, trying, provoking

Examples from the Web for irritating

Contemporary Examples of irritating

Historical Examples of irritating

  • It would be irritating, if you didn't secretly feel the same yourself.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • But he had previously seen her so pained that he felt afraid of irritating her again.

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • I bore his horrible humors, his mad, irritating, capricious temper.


    James Huneker

  • Her system of espial is even more minute and irritating than that of Russia.

    The Destroyer

    Burton Egbert Stevenson

  • This was an irritating fact, but being 131 a fact had to be accepted.

    The Wall Street Girl

    Frederick Orin Bartlett

British Dictionary definitions for irritating



to annoy or anger (someone)
(tr) biology to stimulate (an organism or part) to respond in a characteristic manner
(tr) pathol to cause (a bodily organ or part) to become excessively stimulated, resulting in inflammation, tenderness, etc
Derived Formsirritator, noun

Word Origin for irritate

C16: from Latin irrītāre to provoke, exasperate
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 irritating



1530s, "stimulate to action, rouse, incite," from Latin irritatus, past participle of irritare "excite, provoke." An earlier verb form was irrite (mid-15c.), from Old French irriter. Meaning "annoy, make impatient" is from 1590s. Related: Irritated; irritating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper