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[ag-uh-nahyz] /ˈæg əˌnaɪz/
verb (used without object), agonized, agonizing.
to suffer extreme pain or anguish; be in agony.
to put forth great effort of any kind.
verb (used with object), agonized, agonizing.
to distress with extreme pain; torture.
Also, especially British, agonise.
Origin of agonize
1575-85; < Medieval Latin agōnizāre < Greek agōnízesthai to struggle (for a prize), equivalent to agōn- agon + -izesthai -ize Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for agonise
Historical Examples
  • Othello must not agonise for a cloak, but ‘the little orphan Alice Fell’ has nothing else to agonise for.

    Oxford Lectures on Poetry Andrew Cecil Bradley
  • If we agonise that we and our descendants may rise, life is worth living.

    Life of Charles Darwin G. T. (George Thomas) Bettany
  • His exhortation and command rather is, “Strive”—“knock”—agonise to “enter in!”

    Memories of Bethany John Ross Macduff
  • No one can make me believe that it is to be ascribed to this scandalous Government, under which we agonise.

    The Last Hope Henry Seton Merriman
British Dictionary definitions for agonise


to suffer or cause to suffer agony
(intransitive) to make a desperate effort; struggle; strive
Derived Forms
agonizingly, agonisingly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: via Medieval Latin from Greek agōnizesthai to contend for a prize, from agōnagon
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 agonise



1580s, "to torture," from Middle French agoniser or directly from Medieval Latin agonizare, from Greek agonizesthai "to contend in the struggle" (see agony). Intransitive sense of "to suffer physical pain" is recorded from 1660s. That of "to worry intensely" is from 1853. Related: Agonized; agonizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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