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[ag-uh-nahy-zing] /ˈæg əˌnaɪ zɪŋ/
accompanied by, filled with, or resulting in agony or distress:
We spent an agonizing hour waiting to hear if the accident had been serious or not.
Origin of agonizing
1660-70; agonize + -ing2
Related forms
agonizingly, adverb


[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.
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 agonizing
  • And the wives, agonizing over what they can do to ease the suffering of their children.
  • Strychnine, slow agonizing deaths from traps, human beings certainly are a credit to the planet.
  • Our leaders are now working that conundrum backwards at a pace so slow it's agonizing.
  • The songs are sung by students to the accompaniment of a somewhat agonizing band-Times.
  • Respectful thousands hear an agonizing silence, punctuated with little heaving gulps.
  • One was obliged to submit, and absorb a few social lessons, in agonizing surroundings.
  • Finally, after a long and agonizing struggle, they got the shark onto the deck then installed the tag and let it go.
  • The hostages were eventually freed, but only after two agonizing months and payment of a ransom.
  • Then it took several agonizing minutes to cut the thick rope with a dull pocketknife.
  • As in all great contests, the heroes of the thoroughbred track square off in a world of thrilling victories and agonizing defeats.
British Dictionary definitions for agonizing


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 agonizing



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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