Definition of antagonize in English:


(also antagonise)


  • 1Cause (someone) to become hostile:

    ‘the aim was to antagonize visiting supporters’
    • ‘Till then, find someone else you like reading, and stop reading my blog if it antagonizes you.’
    • ‘I fully admit I have gone out of my way on more than one occasion to needle and to antagonize him.’
    • ‘I absolve him - though I would not do the same for all his cabinet colleagues - of a desire not to antagonise the voters to whom the Conservative advertisement was meant to appeal.’
    • ‘It is spending astronomical amounts of money, alienating allies and further antagonizing opponents.’
    • ‘Such high-level favoritism risks further antagonizing citizens who are fed up with officials helping themselves to public funds.’
    • ‘He liked his neighbour and didn't want to antagonize him.’
    • ‘The biggest drawback to this plan is that it will antagonize opponents of outsourcing.’
    • ‘She antagonised her civil servants, infuriated her leaders, insulted colleagues.’
    • ‘We didn't go out of our way to antagonise him, indeed we tried to avoid all contact.’
    • ‘Why go out of the way to offend and antagonize religious people?’
    • ‘After all, it's a tiny place that earns a substantial part of its living by hosting the enormous EU bureaucracy so it's not the kind of country that stands to benefit from antagonising anybody.’
    • ‘The civil-service strikers may indeed draw attention to their employment conditions, but only at the expense of antagonising the people they are supposed to serve because they are extremely unlikely to change the government's plans.’
    • ‘I personally don't think we should be given more powers because it would just antagonise people.’
    • ‘No matter how hard he tries, you can't help but feel that he secretly enjoys antagonising his readers.’
    • ‘Councils in Bolton and Manchester have also recently come under fire with calls from politicians to get a grip of wardens whose hard-line approach is antagonising motorists and driving shoppers out of the towns.’
    • ‘He was less aggressive today but we played against a team that also wanted just to play football and not antagonise him.’
    • ‘The other two cats aren't openly hostile to her, but they seem to want to antagonize her.’
    • ‘She should be able to have fun and do what she wants and not have people antagonising her.’
    • ‘He tried antagonising me and being patronising and condescending but he didn't intimidate me.’
    • ‘But he quickly antagonises local people who want the land to be owned and used for the community's benefit.’
    arouse hostility in, alienate, set someone against someone else, estrange, disaffect
    anger, annoy, provoke, vex, irritate, offend
    aggravate, rile, needle, get someone's back up, make someone's hackles rise, rub up the wrong way, ruffle someone's feathers, rattle someone's cage, get up someone's nose, get in someone's hair, get someone's dander up, get under someone's skin
    nark, get on someone's wick
    View synonyms
  • 2Biochemistry
    (of a substance) act as an antagonist of (a substance or its action):

    ‘two other drugs antagonized the antidepressant-like effect’
    • ‘For those people who already have substantial hearing loss, researchers are also optimizing compounds that antagonize specific cell cycle proteins resulting in new cell division or proliferation.’
    • ‘They also found that ADHD children responded variably to different B vitamins, with pyridoxine and thiamine antagonizing each other's benefits.’
    • ‘For example, oxytocin's calming effects are enhanced by estrogen, but antagonized by androgen, she notes.’
    • ‘Another approach is using drugs to antagonise the peripheral effects of opioids so that bowel dysfunction is reversed, speeding discharge from hospital.’
    • ‘Thus neurotransmitters and hormones are matched to their appropriate targets, and many drugs work by mimicking these natural substances or antagonizing them by blocking the receptors.’


Mid 18th century (in the sense ‘struggle against’): from Greek antagōnizesthai, from ant- against + agōnizesthai struggle (from agōn contest).