(Greek: struggle, a contest, to contend for a prize; also, to lead, set in motion, drive, conduct, guide, govern; to do, to act; by extension, pain)

agony (s) (noun), agonies (pl)
1. Very great mental or physical pain: Ralph's sister was in terrible agony after slipping on the icy sidewalk and breaking her leg.
2. Death pangs: Lorna said her husband died in agony at the hospital.
3. A convulsive struggle: The doctor told Harriet that the medicine would relieve her of the agony of the muscle cramps.
4. A sudden, strong outburst of emotion: There was an agony of joy when the school's football team won the championship.

Word History

An illustration showing what agony originally meant.

It is strange that a word which currently refers to anguish and intolerable pain should have its origin in a festive sport event; yet, that is the case with agony. In ancient Greece, agon was a public assembly; especially, one for public games and athletic contests.

Agonia was the contest or struggle for a prize. From the meaning "a struggle for victory in the games", agonia gradually expanded to mean any physical struggle, an activity fraught with difficulty or pain, and then mental anguish as well.

Our own English word agony, borrowed from this source, meant struggle or anguish of mind, then the throes (violent pangs of suffering) of death, and then any extreme suffering of body or mind.

—Compiled from Picturesque Word Origins; G. & C. Merriam Company;
Springfield, Massachusetts; 1933; page 11.
antagonism (s) (noun), antagonisms (pl)
1. Hostility or hatred that causes opposition and ill will: The two neighbors were expressing antagonisms and demonstrating unfriendly behavior towards each other.
2. In physiology, the interaction between two or more chemical substances in the body that diminishes the effect each of them has individually: Antagonism can be seen in lab rats when the chemical Dopamine slows down their movements, as it impedes the usual functions of their physical activities.
A condition in which there is hostility toward another person or for each other.
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1. One who opposes and contends against another; an adversary.
2. The principal character in opposition to the protagonist of a narrative or drama.
3. Something opposing or resisting the action of another; certain structures, agents, diseases, or physiologic processes that tend to neutralize or impede the action or effect of others.
4. In biochemistry, a chemical substance that interferes with the physiological action of another; especially, by combining with and blocking its nerve receptor.
antagonistic (adjective), more antagonistic, most antagonistic
1. Showing dislike or opposition; or of the nature of an opponent; mutually or actively opposed: The antagonistic attitudes of the politicians resulted in fewer accomplishments by the legislatures.
2. In physiology, a reference to muscles that counteract each other's action: Two muscles or groups of muscles which are antagonistic to each other result in either no movements or movements in a line of actions of the stronger muscles.
Hostile, opposed, and conflicting.
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antagonize (verb), antagonizes; antagonized; antagonizing
To arouse dislike in someone: Sam's remarks antagonized Mildred when he criticized her for not presenting an complete report on a specific date.
antagonym (s) (noun), antagonyms (pl)
A word that has a meanings which contradicts another word: Using "bad" in place of "good" is labeled as an antagonym.
The second actor or person in a drama as distinguished from the protagonist or leading character.

Cross references of word families related directly, or indirectly, to: "master, lead, leading, ruler, ruling, govern": -agogic; arch-; -crat; dom-; gov-; magist-; poten-; regi-; tyran-.