Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To annoy, as with petty importunities; bother. See Synonyms at annoy.
  • transitive v. To cause perplexity in; puzzle.
  • transitive v. To bring distress or suffering to; plague or afflict.
  • transitive v. To debate or discuss (a question, for example) at length.
  • transitive v. To toss about or shake up.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To trouble aggressively, to harass.
  • v. To annoy, irritate.
  • v. To cause (mental) suffering to; to distress.
  • v. To twist, to weave.
  • v. To be irritated; to fret.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To be irritated; to fret.
  • transitive v. To toss back and forth; to agitate; to disquiet.
  • transitive v. To make angry or annoyed by little provocations; to irritate; to plague; to torment; to harass; to afflict; to trouble; to tease.
  • transitive v. To twist; to weave.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make angry by little provocations; excite slight anger or displeasure in; trouble by petty or light annoyances; irritate; tease; fret; plague; annoy; harass.
  • To make sorrowful; grieve; afflict; distress.
  • To agitate; disturb; overturn or throw into commotion; hence, to dispute; contest; cause to be discussed: in this sense chiefly used in the past participle: as, a vexed (much discussed but unsettled) question.
  • Synonyms Annoy, Plague, etc. (see tease), provoke, gall, chafe. To disquiet.
  • To fret; be teased or irritated; feel annoyed, angry, or distressed.
  • n. A trouble; a vexation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. disturb the peace of mind of; afflict with mental agitation or distress
  • v. subject to prolonged examination, discussion, or deliberation
  • v. cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritations
  • v. change the arrangement or position of
  • v. be a mystery or bewildering to

Etymologies

Middle English vexen, from Old French vexer, from Latin vexāre; see wegh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English vexen, from Old French vexer, from Latin vēxāre ("disturb, agitate"). Replaced native Middle English grillen ("to vex, annoy") from Old English grillan. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word vex with us means to provoke, irritate, by petty provocations.

    Barnes New Testament Notes

  • For she held that a greater power than Setebos had made the world, leaving Setebos merely to "vex" it; while he contends that whoever made the world and its weakness, did so for the pleasure of vexing it himself; and that this greater power, the "Quiet," if it really exists, is above pain or pleasure, and had no motive for such a proceeding.

    A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.)

  • "vex," therefore, is the heightening of grieving by a provocation unto anger and indignation: which sense is suited to the place and matter treated of, though the word signify no more but to "grieve;" and so it is rendered by lupeo, Gen. xlv.

    Pneumatologia

  • Advice for the day: do not vex EVIL SORCEROUS QUEENS.

    End: Nigh

  • No more does his infernal laugh go echoing among the hills, and no more does his fat moon-face rise up to vex me.

    MOON-FACE

  • There seemed no flies to vex him and he was languid with rest.

    All Gold Cañon

  • Only those fools who cleave to the dread phrase "living in the moment" can avoid the waves or pin-pricks – it's a personality thing of unease that vex most of us.

    I'd be much happier if people stopped asking if I was happy | Rachel Cooke

  • That will really vex me when I publish in book form.

    New FIC...just because...BEDTIME STORY

  • Such conundrums will vex analysts long into the future.

    Misleading Indicator

  • The retention of Interior Minister Mansour al Essawy, seen by some as embodying the previous regime, is likely to further vex demonstrators and diminish the intended impact of Mr. Sharaf's cabinet shake-up.

    Egypt's Leader Names New Ministers

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Comments

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  • I append a more recent application, from Sean Paul's "Get Busy":

    'Yo sexy ladies want par with us
    In a the car with us
    Them nah war with us
    In a the club them want flex with us
    To get next to us
    Them nah vex with us'

    July 28, 2009


  • Yet now, when Griefe and Ioy at once conspire
    To vexe my feeble minde with aduerse might,
    Reason suggests not words to my desire,
    Nor daines no Muse to helpe me to endite;
    So doth this ciuil strife of Passions strong,
    Both moue and marre the measures of my song.

    - Joseph Hall, 'The Kings Prophecie'.

    July 28, 2009