(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)

agonothete (s) (noun), agonothetes, agonothetae (pl)
An authorized person who officiated over the important contests for the public in Ancient Greece; agonothete: All the people waited impatiently for the agonothete to give the signal for the great games to begin.
agonothetic (adjective) (not comparable)
Descriptive of an agonothete or the office of an agonothete: The agonothetic responsibilities of presiding over the public contests in Ancient Greece involved making important decisions.
agonous (adjective), more agonous, most agonous
Pertaining to a person filled with agony: Jane had a dreadful and agonous feeling when she saw her beloved husband dead in the street after being killed in the accident.
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.
antagonal (adjective), more antagonal, most antagonal
1. Relating to the condition of being against something; antagonistic: Mike's sister behaved in an antagonal way towards his best friend Jack because she certainly didn't like him at all.
2. Concerning the main force or character that opposes the protagonist in a story: Jack read a drama about an antagonal man who was threatening the main character in the story, which finally ended with the enemy being shot.
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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antagonist (s) (noun), antagonists (pl)
1. One who opposes and contends against another; an adversary: In the game of tennis, Jeff was Mark's antagonist, or rival and opponent.
2. The principal character in opposition to the protagonist of a narrative or drama: James thought that crime novels were most exciting when there was not only a wonderful and good protagonist, but also an antagonist who was the criminal.
3. Something opposing or resisting the action of another: Antagonists can be 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: Antagonists can bind to a receptor, but is not able to produce a physiological response especially because of combining with and blocking its nerve receptor.
antagonistic (adjective), more antagonistic, most antagonistic
1. Referring to a person who shows 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 a complete report on a specific date.
antagonizer (s) (noun), antagonizers (pl)
A person or something that annoys, insults, or irritates: When on their camping trip in Alaska, the worst antagonizers were the mosquitoes with their high-pitched buzzing that never ended, and were especially nerve-wracking during the night!
antagonym, antagony (s) (noun); antagonyms; antagoniess (pl)
A word that has a meaning which contradicts another word; contranym: Using "bad" in place of "good" is labeled as an antagonym.
deuteragonist (s) (noun), deuteragonists (pl)
The second actor or person in a drama as distinguished from the protagonist or leading character: In classical Greek dram, a deuteragonist had the secondary role, or the second most important role, next to the protagonist.
preagonal, pre-agonal (adjective) (not comparable)
1. A reference to that which immediately precedes death: The colonel reconciled with his estranged son in the preagonal hours prior to the colonel's departure from life.
2. Descriptive of something which occurs or exists immediately before the agony of death: The family gathered around the dying patriarch's bed in the preagonal hours in advance of his demise.

Death "agony" is an old term for the period just before someone dies which was thought to be a time of extreme suffering.

protagonist (s) (noun), protagonists (pl)
1. The most important or primary character, either good or evil, in a novel, play, story, or other literary work: The protagonist must defend himself or herself against the opposition of an antagonist.
2. A leading personage in any contest; a prominent supporter or champion of any cause: The protagonist is not necessarily a "good person".

In ancient Greek drama, the protagonist was said to be the main character, however in a modern work with more than one main character, there might be more than one protagonist.

4. Etymology: borrowed from Greek, proto-, "first in time, earliest" + agonistes, "actor, combatant".
A primary chaster in a play or drama.
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pseudoantagonist (s) (noun), pseudoantagonists (pl)
A person who is not a real enemy or opponent: Jack was not really Sam's antagonist in the story, but the pseudoantagonist, Sam's friend and ally, and just played the part of Sam's rival.

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-.