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[ir-i-tey-ting] /ˈɪr ɪˌteɪ tɪŋ/
causing irritation; annoying; provoking:
irritating questions.
Origin of irritating
1700-10; irritate + -ing2
Related forms
irritatingly, adverb
nonirritating, adjective
unirritating, adjective


[ir-i-teyt] /ˈɪr ɪˌteɪt/
verb (used with object), irritated, irritating.
to excite to impatience or anger; annoy.
Physiology, Biology. to excite (a living system) to some characteristic action or function.
Pathology. to bring (a body part) to an abnormally excited or sensitive condition.
verb (used without object), irritated, irritating.
to cause irritation or become irritated.
1525-35; < Latin irrītātus, past participle of irrītāre to arouse to anger, excite, aggravate, equivalent to irritā- v. stem + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
irritator, noun
Can be confused
aggravate, annoy, intensify, irritate, worsen (see synonym study at aggravate)
1. vex, chafe, fret, gall; nettle, ruffle, pique; incense, enrage, infuriate, inflame. Irritate, exasperate, provoke mean to annoy or stir to anger. To irritate is to excite to impatience or angry feeling, often of no great depth or duration: to irritate by refusing to explain an action. To exasperate is to irritate to a point where self-control is threatened or lost: to exasperate by continual delays and excuses. To provoke is to stir to a sudden, strong feeling of resentful anger as by unwarrantable acts or wanton annoyance: to tease and provoke an animal until it attacks. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for irritating
  • Your letter must be long enough to contain real substance but not so long that it becomes irritating.
  • It was a little irritating to see my first post mocked with a pointless and flip answer.
  • Ozone reacts with compounds in skin oils, resulting in some potentially irritating chemicals.
  • In addition, even irritating family members often provide support and warmth you cannot afford to give up.
  • Sorry about the rants but they were becoming irritating.
  • Using a scientific article to preach at people is irritating at best, even to many such as myself who essentially agree with you.
  • Your point about publishing it is well taken even if you choose an irritating way to express it.
  • Listening to these pieces can be irritating and annoying because there is a complete lack of familiarity.
  • But too many signals are confusing and irritating to the whole.
  • There is no way your collie was anything more than a irritating fly to a pit bull.
British Dictionary definitions for irritating


to annoy or anger (someone)
(transitive) (biology) to stimulate (an organism or part) to respond in a characteristic manner
(transitive) (pathol) to cause (a bodily organ or part) to become excessively stimulated, resulting in inflammation, tenderness, etc
Derived Forms
irritator, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin irrītāre to provoke, exasperate
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 irritating



1530s, "stimulate to action, rouse, incite," from Latin irritatus, past participle of irritare "excite, provoke." An earlier verb form was irrite (mid-15c.), from Old French irriter. Meaning "annoy, make impatient" is from 1590s. Related: Irritated; irritating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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