Definition of agitate in English:



[with object]
  • 1Make (someone) troubled or nervous.

    ‘the thought of questioning Toby agitated him extremely’
    • ‘At first he was extremely agitated that she was standing so close to his private zone.’
    • ‘The decline and fall of everything is our daily dread; we are agitated in private life and tormented by public questions.’
    • ‘At the moment she is agitated and distressed, but I'm sure in time, with the help and understanding from the carers, she will adjust to her new home.’
    • ‘Undoubtedly, my observations will once again agitate a few people who will tell me that I should get behind U.S. automakers instead of criticizing them.’
    • ‘She was slightly agitated and upset, but not upset enough to run away.’
    • ‘This person is agitated, anxious restless, tremulous and looses appetite and cannot sleep.’
    • ‘By the time I enter the plane, I'm agitated and surrounded by people who look as if nothing unusual at all is happening.’
    • ‘When he comes home from school he is very agitated and upset, and can't understand why he is being picked on.’
    • ‘She felt lost, empty, dead when she was surrounded by numbers of bright people and it agitated her.’
    • ‘Initially, he was extremely agitated but had normal neurologic examination results.’
    • ‘He was extremely agitated and wouldn't let anyone near him before his father turned up.’
    • ‘If you're going to agitate a person by getting them to eat certain foods, I think you've not given them a quality experience.’
    • ‘Pacing around the room, his broad shoulders tight with nervous energy, he is agitated.’
    • ‘By Sunday I was extremely agitated and highly restless.’
    • ‘I had to make a decision; there were too many questions that kept agitating me.’
    • ‘In the emergency department, the patient was agitated, diaphoretic, and in extreme respiratory distress.’
    • ‘He was extremely agitated, which together with a smell of alcohol on his breath led to a suspicion of driving while under the influence of drink and drugs.’
    • ‘Mark had learnt, during their talk that the man's name was Joseph but everyone referred to him as Josh, and he was extremely agitated.’
    • ‘I noted on more than one occasion that he was distressed during the interview and noted that he was so agitated at times that he could not sit in his seat.’
    • ‘She hadn't had a nightmare, or a panic attack or anything of that sort, yet she was extremely agitated.’
    upset, perturb, fluster, ruffle, disconcert, unnerve, disquiet, disturb, distress, unsettle, bother, concern, trouble, cause anxiety to, make anxious, alarm, work up, flurry, worry
    View synonyms
  • 2Stir or disturb (something, especially a liquid) briskly.

    ‘agitate the water to disperse the oil’
    • ‘She agitates the water and then places the cup on the middle of the plastic platform.’
    • ‘The lead within the condensers is constantly agitated so as to produce lead droplets, onto which the zinc vapour condenses.’
    • ‘Pigs and cattle have died when liquid manure stored in pits under slotted floors was agitated.’
    • ‘As he had mentioned to Vanessa, they needed a really good blow to agitate the sea, stir up its bed and move larger objects to the surface.’
    • ‘In some management systems, agitating the liquid in pits has greatly reduced fly breeding.’
    • ‘To prevent steam bubbles forming soft spots, a water quenching bath should be agitated.’
    • ‘During and after settling, care should be taken not to agitate the water.’
    • ‘With a semisolid or solid manure storage, manure can be hauled when ever time allows without planning ahead to agitate the storage as is required with liquid storages.’
    • ‘Filler can settle out of suspension, requiring the material to be stirred or agitated before and after it is removed from the container.’
    • ‘Boiling also agitates the water, increasing the amount of foam.’
    • ‘In the morning, agitate the water with a toilet brush and flush.’
    • ‘This crust helps control odors and should not be disturbed until the waste is agitated, just prior to field spreading.’
    • ‘The plants were thoroughly washed by adding water to the bags and agitating them vigorously for 1 min.’
    • ‘Cuvette temperature was controlled by a circulating water bath, and the contents were continuously agitated by a magnetic stirring bar.’
    • ‘It is soluble in water, which means, before conducting atmosphere readings in tanks and void spaces, any residual water will need to be agitated or mopped up.’
    • ‘The possible source of the SARS virus in that epidemic was agitated sewage water.’
    • ‘This was done by gently agitating each sample in a bucket of water and decanting the floating charcoal into a .5 mm geologic screen or into .3 mm fine mesh.’
    • ‘Be sure the entire tank is agitated and mixed before spraying.’
    • ‘The dress must be basically washable in warm water & able to be agitated at least somewhat for uniform dyeing.’
    • ‘A pump inside the tank agitates the water, to ensure that the ice doesn't get too cold, and that the crystals produced remain on the small side.’
    stir, whisk, beat, churn, shake, toss, blend, whip, whip up, fold, roil, jolt, disturb
    View synonyms
  • 3no object Campaign to arouse public concern about an issue in the hope of prompting action.

    ‘they agitated for a reversal of the decision’
    • ‘They agitated for loan deals to get some games and are likely to want some guarantees as to appearances.’
    • ‘The bigger clubs could even win their long-sought prize of negotiating their own television deals - something Celtic and Rangers have agitated for in the past.’
    • ‘They also agitated for free speech and assembly, the liberation of political prisoners and for the abolition of grain requisitioning.’
    • ‘Behind the scenes, she agitated for parity with the male stars of the Paris Opera and for a say in how the company was managed.’
    • ‘It has agitated for better sex education in order to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies and the spread of venereal diseases.’
    • ‘Cabramatta was a community of ordinary people like that old man, who recognised the problems of drugs and organised crime in their community and spoke up and agitated for change.’
    • ‘We all know what a difficult road this is and many of us have agitated for substantial improvements to it.’
    • ‘There he agitated for free speech.’
    • ‘Great credit is to neighbour James Whelan who agitated for years for those lights, he held meetings in his house and made a great effort, so thanks to James we have a lovely bright cross.’
    • ‘In September 1941 he agitated for reform, pointing out the problems of producing work that was effective and up-to-date.’
    • ‘She has agitated for a better senior center south of Interstate 90 since the early 1990s.’
    • ‘He would never finish higher than sixth in the league with West Ham; and although he periodically agitated for a move to Spurs, the West Ham board always insisted on him staying.’
    • ‘But her reporting is most powerful when recounting the isolated voices within the establishment who agitated for intervention.’
    • ‘Who, in fact, were the actors who agitated for a naked public square, and what were the grievances or desired benefits that drove their activism?’
    • ‘Reporting back, he agitated for reform, so troubled was he by the abuses he had uncovered.’
    • ‘They agitated for American independence and the abolishment of slavery in the United States.’
    • ‘‘I've remorselessly agitated for a full public inquiry but the powers that be have just kicked me into touch so to speak,’ he said.’
    • ‘They seemed generally wary of taking ‘political’ stances on issues and preferred to cooperate with rather than agitate against the re-emerging government.’
    • ‘Subsequently, with other intellectuals, he agitated for political and social change, earning a reputation as a mild radical and socialist.’
    • ‘They agitated for ‘national’ interests only as long as they could camouflage their own interests as nationalist.’
    campaign, strive, battle, fight, struggle, crusade, push, press
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘drive away’): from Latin agitat- ‘agitated, driven’, from agitare, frequentative of agere ‘do, drive’.