AskDefine | Define aggravate

Dictionary Definition



1 make worse; "This drug aggravates the pain" [syn: worsen, exacerbate, exasperate] [ant: better]
2 exasperate or irritate [syn: exacerbate, exasperate]

User Contributed Dictionary



aggravatus, past participle of aggravare. See aggrieve.


IPA: WEAE /ˈæg.rə.vet/


  1. To make worse, or more severe; to render less tolerable or less excusable; to make more offensive; to enhance; to intensify.
    To aggravate my woes. —Pope.
    To aggravate the horrors of the scene. —Prescott.
    The defense made by the prisoner's counsel did rather aggravate than extenuate his crime. —Addison.
  2. To give coloring to in description; to exaggerate; as, to aggravate circumstances. —Paley.
  3. To exasperate; to provoke; to irritate.
    If both were to aggravate her parents, as my brother and sister do mine. —Richardson (Clarissa).

Usage notes

  • Although the meaning "to exasperate, to annoy" has been in continuous usage since the 17th century, a large number of usage mavens have contested it since the 1870s. Opinions have only recently started to sway from this proscription.


To make worse, or more severe
To give coloring to in description; to exaggerate; as, to aggravate circumstances
To exasperate; to provoke; to irritate



  1. Form of Second-person plural present tense, aggravare
  2. Form of Second-person plural imperative, aggravare#Italian|aggravare

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accelerate, agent provocateur, aggrandize, alienate, amplify, anger, annoy, antagonize, arouse, augment, badger, bait, be at, bedevil, beef up, beset, blow up, bother, bristle, brown off, bug, build up, bullyrag, burn up, chafe, chivy, come between, complicate, concentrate, condense, consolidate, damage, deepen, deteriorate, devil, dilapidate, disaffect, discompose, distemper, disturb, disunite, divide, dog, double, embitter, endamage, enhance, enlarge, envenom, estrange, exacerbate, exaggerate, exasperate, exercise, fan the flame, fash, fret, frustrate, gall, get, grate, gripe, harass, harm, harry, heat up, heckle, hector, heighten, hop up, hot up, hound, huff, hurt, impair, incense, increase, inflame, infuriate, injure, intensify, irk, irritate, jazz up, key up, light the fuse, madden, magnify, make acute, make complex, make trouble, make worse, miff, molest, mount, multiply, nag, needle, nettle, nudzh, peeve, persecute, perturb, pester, pick on, pique, pit against, plague, pluck the beard, pother, provoke, put back, ramify, rankle, redouble, reinforce, ride, rile, rise, roil, rouse, ruffle, separate, set against, set at odds, set at variance, set on, set up, sharpen, sic on, soup up, sour, sow dissension, step up, stir the blood, stir up, stir up trouble, strengthen, tease, torment, triple, trouble, try the patience, tweak the nose, upset, vex, weaken, whet, work up, worry, worsen
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