1425–75; late Middle English
< Latin aggravātus
(past participle of aggravāre
), equivalent to ag- ag-
) + -ātus -ate1
; cf. aggrieve
aggravative, adjectiveaggravator, nounoveraggravate, verb (used with object), overaggravated, overaggravating.preaggravate, verb (used with object), preaggravated, preaggravating.reaggravate, verb (used with object), reaggravated, reaggravating.
Can be confused
(see synonym study at the current entry)
heighten, increase. Aggravate, intensify
both mean to increase in degree. To aggravate
is to make more serious or more grave: to aggravate a danger, an offense, a wound.
is perceptibly to increase intensity, force, energy, vividness, etc.: to intensify heat, color, rage. 2.
anger, vex, rile.
The two most common senses of aggravate
are “to make worse” and “to annoy or exasperate.” Both senses first appeared in the early 17th century at almost the same time; the corresponding two senses of the noun aggravation
also appeared then. Both senses of aggravate
have been standard since then. The use of aggravate
to mean “annoy” is sometimes objected to because it departs from the etymological meaning “to make heavier,” and in formal speech and writing the sense “annoy” is somewhat less frequent than “to make worse.” The noun aggravation
meaning “annoyance” occurs in all types of speech and writing.