from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To increase the severity, violence, or bitterness of; aggravate.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To increase the bitterness or virulence of; make more violent, as a disease, or angry, hostile, or malignant feelings; aggravate; exasperate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To render more violent or bitter; to irritate; to exasperate; to imbitter, as passions or disease.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To make worse (pain, anger, etc.) worse; aggravate.
  • verb transitive To irritate.

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

  • verb make worse
  • verb exasperate or irritate


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

[Latin exacerbāre, exacerbāt- : ex-, intensive pref.; see ex– + acerbāre, to make harsh (from acerbus, harsh; see ak- in Indo-European roots).]


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  • "How everybody's all pretending they know what in hell the word exacerbate means."

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  • Although litigation may be necessary at some point, Mr. King's lawsuit has only served to "exacerbate" negotiations with BP, Mr. Riley said in an interview.

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  • He also warned Nato not to "exacerbate" its presence in the region.

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  • Why am I sure the Pope's reply will be couched in some stupid definition of "exacerbate" along the lines of "encourage promiscuous behaviour"?

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  • Anamika, who tied for fifth in her debut last year, kept both hands behind her back as she rattled off "exacerbate" and "foggara."

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  • So we kind of exacerbate that dynamic to the fullest.

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  • Both Wordsworth and Coleridge left Cambridge with a love of literature, and a revolutionary fervor that would only exacerbate their troubles.

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  • "And I have to say that what exacerbates the problem is..." - "A Miracle Would Happen," The Last Five Years

    January 10, 2007

  • exAcerBATE

    May 7, 2008

  • But abate is (roughly) an antonym of exacerbate…?

    May 8, 2008

  • That's why it's listed on Kangaroo Words 2.

    May 9, 2008

  • Did look down the list but it's so gigantic I missed it! Damn it.

    May 9, 2008

  • As I always say, I use the word 'exacerbate' at least once in every school assignment, because almost everything will inevitably get worse ^_^

    July 4, 2009

  • Eating Animals

    July 2, 2010

  • "These days, schizophrenia is often imagined as the quintessential brain disease, an expression of underlying organic vulnerability perhaps exacerbated by environmental stress, but as real and as obdurate as kidney failure" -- American Scholar

    August 27, 2012

  • make worse

    Her sleeplessness exacerbated her cold--when she woke up the next day, her sinuses were completely blocked.

    October 12, 2016