Definition of agonistic in US English:



  • 1Combative; polemical.

    • ‘Now, as we all know, I am not a huge fan of speculations about essential differences between the sexes, although I do get that what Tannen is saying there is that there's no real reason that political discourse must necessarily be agonistic.’
    • ‘The agonistic approach can create an atmosphere of defensiveness and fear - we saw it here over the foreshore and seabed debate.’
    • ‘To do so is to embrace an agonistic romanticism of perpetually unfulfilled longing and desire.’
    • ‘Baudrillard contends, through an adaptation of Mauss, that all systems regulate themselves through dual, agonistic movements.’
    • ‘In this case, the narratives tend to have a less univocally negative or agonistic flavor and reflect both the triumphs and tribulations of an individual's life experiences.’
    1. 1.1Zoology (of animal behavior) associated with conflict.
      • ‘In July 1997, we quantified only chases directed at other fish (some of which concluded with nips at other fish) because this was the most prevalent agonistic behavior we observed.’
      • ‘In addition, we recorded all occurrences of the following agonistic behaviors: chases, fights, parallel runs, and squeal displays.’
      • ‘Rank was ascertained by observation of agonistic interactions between study animals.’
      • ‘The agonistic behavior of many group-living animals, such as wintering passerines, ranges from overt aggression to more or less ritualized threat displays.’
      • ‘Although there are no footdrumming exchanges, agonistic interactions are avoided because footdrumming is done exclusively inside the burrow by the kangaroo rat avoiding contact with the one outside the burrow.’
    2. 1.2Biochemistry Relating to or acting as an agonist.
      • ‘In addition, they may have agonistic effects on the noradrenergic and serotonin systems.’
      • ‘Apomorphine is also currently under study for use in the therapy of male impotence because of its dopamine agonistic effects.’
      • ‘Nicotine and the snake venom also bind these receptors with agonistic and antagonistic effects, respectively.’
      • ‘It has both agonistic actions and weak opioid antagonistic activity.’
      • ‘Morphine and like narcotic agonists have agonistic actions.’


Mid 17th century: via late Latin from Greek agōnistikos, from agōnistēs ‘contestant’ (see agonist).