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mid-14c., "to move, stir up, instigate," from Old French esciter (12c.) or directly from Latin excitare "rouse, call out, summon forth, produce," frequentative of exciere "call forth, instigate," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + ciere "set in motion, call" (see cite). Of feelings, from late 14c. Of bodily organs or tissues, from 1831. Main modern sense of "emotionally agitate" is first attested 1821.