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[aj-i-tey-ter] /ˈædʒ ɪˌteɪ tər/
a person who stirs up others in order to upset the status quo and further a political, social, or other cause:
The boss said he would fire any union agitators.
a machine or device for agitating and mixing.
Origin of agitator
1730-40; agitate + -or2
Related forms
[aj-i-tuh-tawr-ee-uh l, -tohr-] /ˌædʒ ɪ təˈtɔr i əl, -ˈtoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for agitators
  • If there are public demonstrations against them, that must reflect outside agitators.
  • In a rambling television address, the president blamed foreign agitators for the troubles.
  • agitators are people you step slowly away from, not embrace.
  • It seems to me that many of your more vocal agitators act as though they've never been wrong about anything.
  • We're outside agitators, all right, but by invitation only.
  • agitators obstructed by equipment or piping that prevents access to the agitator by a monitor probe.
  • Starts agitators to mix chemicals and allows impurities to settle to bottom of tank.
  • Washers with agitators pull and rub clothes to get them clean.
  • Professional agitators were therefore called into action to create a scene.
  • The modified asphalt must be stored in containers equipped with mechanical agitators in order to prevent stratification.
British Dictionary definitions for agitators


a person who agitates for or against a cause, etc
a device, machine, or part used for mixing, shaking, or vibrating a material, usually a fluid
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
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Word Origin and History for agitators



1640s, agent noun from agitate (v.); originally "elected representative of the common soldiers in Cromwell's army," who brought grievances (chiefly over lack of pay) to their officers and Parliament.

Political sense is first recorded 1734, and negative overtones began with its association with Irish patriots such as Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847). Historically, in American English, often with outside and referring to people who stir up a supposedly contented class or race. Latin agitator meant "a driver, a charioteer."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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