Definition of agonistic in US English:



  • 1Combative; polemical.

    • ‘To do so is to embrace an agonistic romanticism of perpetually unfulfilled longing and desire.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The agonistic approach can create an atmosphere of defensiveness and fear - we saw it here over the foreshore and seabed debate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Baudrillard contends, through an adaptation of Mauss, that all systems regulate themselves through dual, agonistic movements.’
    1. 1.1Zoology (of animal behavior) associated with conflict.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Rank was ascertained by observation of agonistic interactions between study animals.’
      • ‘In addition, we recorded all occurrences of the following agonistic behaviors: chases, fights, parallel runs, and squeal displays.’
      • ‘The agonistic behavior of many group-living animals, such as wintering passerines, ranges from overt aggression to more or less ritualized threat displays.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2Biochemistry Relating to or acting as an agonist.
      • ‘In addition, they may have agonistic effects on the noradrenergic and serotonin systems.’
      • ‘Morphine and like narcotic agonists have agonistic actions.’
      • ‘It has both agonistic actions and weak opioid antagonistic activity.’
      • ‘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.’


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