Definition of agonize in English:


(also agonise)


  • 1Undergo great mental anguish through worrying about something.

    ‘I didn't agonize over the problem’
    • ‘Whether you are worried about growing your company without losing control, agonising over funding, or designing a killer marketing campaign, our panellists can help you.’
    • ‘There's work, sometimes agonizing, but there is nothing like finally finishing a short story or a novel, holding it in your hands, and for awhile being completely satisfied, enchanted, and euphoric.’
    • ‘I'm starting to make healthier choices - a side salad instead of chips - without agonizing over the decision.’
    • ‘Well, I think he's really agonizing about this decision.’
    • ‘I'm supposed to call him when I'm back in the big city to make arrangements, which is a plus because I won't be sitting around agonizing over when or if he's going to call.’
    • ‘Back in my day, we didn't worry about self-esteem or agonize over feelings.’
    • ‘For all he agonised and fretted, he never fell apart.’
    • ‘I ended up not bringing the chapter I've been agonizing over.’
    • ‘And you know, some of the notes, the decisions that he made, some of the original, agonizing - the photos tell the story.’
    • ‘Well, all due respect, and if comics buffs want to spend a lot of time and energy agonizing over whether comics get enough respect or not, why deny them the pleasure.’
    • ‘Every weekend you arrange your roster, agonizing over each critical player; who to bench, who to play, who to drop, who to pick up.’
    • ‘He knows he's not supposed to dwell on what was or agonize about what might be.’
    • ‘Seeing your worry written out externalizes what you have been agonizing over.’
    • ‘We cut paper up into strips and squares, annoyed the guy at the copy shop, xeroxed the puzzle a few times and agonized over it for the better part of a night, finally getting the picture figured out around 8 am.’
    • ‘Just finished up a long phone conversation with Bill and Skippy, my friends from Kansas City who are agonizing over whether to make the big leap of moving here to New York.’
    • ‘I've been agonizing over this decision for about a week.’
    • ‘We agonize about these decisions, for ourselves when we are contemplating living wills, or for relatives and friends, only or mainly because we take our and their critical interests into account.’
    • ‘I obsess over it, agonize over it, ruminate over it.’
    • ‘Forty days is the mourning period and he was working on that last, agonizing, poignant day because he too needed the money so desperately for his remaining small family.’
    • ‘This is particularly agonizing because, although I feel confident about my exterior, I'm growing less confident about the reality beneath the clothes.’
    worry, fret, fuss, upset oneself, rack one's brains, wrestle with oneself, be worried, be anxious, feel uneasy, exercise oneself, brood, muse
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Cause mental anguish to.
      ‘a question which will agonize the technocrats’
      • ‘His brain was dazed and still surging with the terrible thoughts which had agonized him the night before.’
      • ‘So I was agonized by their fear and insecurity - the backlash.’
      • ‘Viewers in those days were agonized by his notion of justice and fair play!’
      • ‘This is not to say that he was not agonized by risky decisions he needed to make with regard to his career as a sage.’
      • ‘The accession of the Dutch prince to the throne had agonized the Tories because it set aside both the reigning (or "abdicated") king and the Prince of Wales.’


Late 16th century: from French agoniser or late Latin agonizare, from Greek agōnizesthai ‘contend’, from agōn ‘contest’.