Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To suffer extreme pain or great anguish.
  • intransitive v. To make a great effort; struggle.
  • transitive v. To cause great pain or anguish to. See Synonyms at afflict.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To writhe with agony; to suffer violent anguish.
  • v. To struggle; to wrestle; to strive desperately.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To writhe with agony; to suffer violent anguish.
  • intransitive v. To struggle; to wrestle; to strive desperately.
  • transitive v. To cause to suffer agony; to subject to extreme pain; to torture.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To struggle; wrestle, as in the arena; hence, to make great effort of any kind.
  • To writhe with extreme pain; suffer violent anguish.
  • To distress with extreme pain; torture.
  • Also spelled agonise.

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

  • v. cause to agonize
  • v. suffer agony or anguish

Etymologies

Medieval Latin agōnizāre, from Greek agōnizesthai, to struggle, from agōn, contest; see agony.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French agoniser, from Late Latin agonizare, from Ancient Greek ἀγωνίζομαι (agonizomai, "to fight, contend"). See agony. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Spirit "agonize" in prayer as the Son did in Gethsemane?

    The Kneeling Christian

  • People agonize over buying washing machines and homes, but all spending is important, Mr. Edelman says.

    How You Can Get a Raise This Year

  • To watch him agonize over some of the tough positions he took was to appreciate the complexity of a man judged harshly and often simplistically.

    He Knew He Was Right

  • Many Namie residents continue to agonize over the possibility that they may have deserted fellow citizens who were awaiting rescue.

    Would-Be Rescuers Still Haunted by Japan's Disasters

  • They did not agonize over why they were fighting or whether it was worth it.

    Matthew Yglesias » The War

  • And she has adopted a "fabulous" new hairstyle -- dreadlocks -- so that she no longer has to agonize about her perpetually frizzy hair.

    An Interview with Anne Lamott

  • I agonize that my sanity will implode as the lines of reality blur while I try to find a footing in this new definition of my life.

    Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery

  • Cohen said he has seen anxiety increase among some clients who use Facebook because they focus too much on how many friends they have, or worry that others aren't posting enough items on their walls, or fret about what to write in their status updates, just as they agonize over what to say in person.

    Can Facebook help overcome shyness?

  • With three viable candidates, voters will agonize over whether to approve their second choice candidate as well as their first choice, but at least the relevant considerations are within the intellectual grasp of most of America.

    Matthew Yglesias » Alternative Voting

  • The opinion, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt and joined by Senior Judge Procter Hug, added, "The VA's unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough; no more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to meet its obligations."

    Robert David Jaffee: Mentally Ill Veterans Deserve Our Support

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