Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[an-tag-uh-nist] /ænˈtæg ə nɪst/
a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary.
the adversary of the hero or protagonist of a drama or other literary work:
Iago is the antagonist of Othello.
Physiology. a muscle that acts in opposition to another.
Compare agonist (def 3).
Dentistry. a tooth in one jaw that articulates during mastication or occlusion with a tooth in the opposing jaw.
Pharmacology. a drug that counteracts the effects of another drug.
1590-1600; < Late Latin antagōnista < Greek antagōnistḗs. See antagonize, -ist
Can be confused
antagonist, proponent, protagonist.
1. contestant, enemy, foe. See adversary.
1. ally, friend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for antagonist
  • With no strong antagonist, the plot is a bit tepid (although always plausible).
  • Caffeine is an antagonist for the neurotransmitter adenosine.
  • It's not love that Conroy feels for his old antagonist but a sense of triumph.
  • Development just like its antagonist, corruption, occurs in degrees.
  • He seems to specialize in playing the audience's antagonist.
  • As it turned out — and always does in the movies — the antagonist miscalculated.
  • But Sammy dodged easily and came at his antagonist from a different angle.
  • She gradually reads her own resilience in the eyes of her antagonist.
  • Nature, and the need to regard it as an ally rather than an antagonist, was one of his constant preoccupations.
  • Then of course, a drug can act as an antagonist, which means that it binds to the receptor and inhibits that receptors activity.
British Dictionary definitions for antagonist


an opponent or adversary, as in a contest, drama, sporting event, etc
any muscle that opposes the action of another Compare agonist (sense 1)
a drug that counteracts the effects of another drug Compare synergist (sense 1)
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for antagonist

1590s, from French antagoniste (16c.) or directly from Late Latin antagonista, from Greek antagonistes "competitor, opponent, rival," agent noun from antagonizesthai "to struggle against, oppose, be a rival," from anti- "against" (see anti-) + agonizesthai "to contend for a prize," from agon "contest" (see agony). Originally in battle or sport, extended 1620s to any sphere of human activity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
antagonist in Medicine

antagonist an·tag·o·nist (ān-tāg'ə-nĭst)
Something, such as a muscle, disease, or physiological process, that neutralizes or impedes the action or effect of another.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
antagonist in Science
  1. A muscle that opposes the action of another muscle, as by relaxing while the other one contracts, thereby producing smooth, coordinated movement.

  2. A chemical substance, such as a drug, that interferes with the physiological action of another substance, especially by combining with and blocking its nerve receptor. Compare agonist.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for antagonist

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for antagonist

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with antagonist

Nearby words for antagonist