Definition of aggravate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈaɡrəveɪt/


[with object]
1Make (a problem, injury, or offence) worse or more serious: military action would only aggravate the situation
More example sentences
  • That seriously aggravates his third problem - namely, that as the candidate appealing to both wings of the Democrats, he necessarily also annoys both wings.
  • ‘Your dangerous and aggressive driving was intentional, this seriously aggravates the offence,’ Judge Haworth said.
  • The housing problem was aggravated by a rapid increase in a population that doubled from 1949 to 1964 and almost doubled again by the end of the century.
2 informal Annoy or exasperate: (as adjective aggravating) she found him thoroughly aggravating and unprofessional
More example sentences
  • I used to work at a grocery store, and would go home each night thoroughly annoyed and aggravated.
  • Words I would never have dared to say to my father before, whenever he annoyed or aggravated me.
  • We're looking for stories where your MIL drives you a little crazy, aggravates / annoys you a bit (nothing mean).


Aggravate in the sense ‘annoy or exasperate’ dates back to the 17th century and has been so used by respected writers ever since. This use is still regarded as incorrect by some traditionalists on the grounds that it is too radical a departure from the etymological meaning of ‘make heavy’. It is, however, comparable to meaning changes in hundreds of other words which have long been accepted without comment.



Example sentences
  • As it is, I find the navigation aggravatingly, ironically useless.
  • Some aggravatingly healthy person started whistling ‘Blue Moon,’ and everyone laughed with the joy of the catch.
  • Or the theory of weight loss is aggravatingly simple - burn more calories than you consume - and the most pleasant possible practice is to do this without really noticing, for example by taking a nice long walk.


Mid 16th century: from Latin aggravat- 'made heavy', from the verb aggravare, from ad- (expressing increase) + gravis 'heavy'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ag¦gra|vate

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