Definition of agony in US English:



  • 1Extreme physical or mental suffering.

    ‘he crashed to the ground in agony’
    • ‘The problem was the poor woman then had to cope with a set of false teeth for the rest of her life with all the attendant agonies of wondering whether you can bite into an apple without leaving your teeth embedded into it.’
    • ‘Authors and publishers hurt by lost revenue, agonies of tribulation’
    • ‘Dapper of dress and genial of manner, Corbett seems the antithesis of the tortured comic suffering endless agonies for his art.’
    • ‘We start out thinking of these afflictions as separate agonies.’
    • ‘Grams argues that all social layers share in life's abundance of physical and mental agonies.’
    • ‘One notion that haunts this Danish film is how in the blink of an eye a personal heaven can turn into a hell whose agonies reverberate traumatically through other lives.’
    • ‘What sort of world is this that predisposes roughly 20 percent of human beings to suffer mental agonies?’
    • ‘You won't find many personal accounts of the agonies of backache or ingrowing toenails.’
    • ‘And therein lies a clue that perhaps this superman can in fact be tripped up by an opponent who fights through the pain to inflict agonies of his own.’
    • ‘As families are forced to empty out the contents of their cluttered home onto the back lawn, we'll see the trauma and agonies as they decide what stays and what goes.’
    • ‘At least the physical agonies that students undergo will be restricted or minimised.’
    • ‘You tend to imagine the worst, suffer agonies of mind today.’
    • ‘One reason is that we are probably wrong to imagine that they have been suffering agonies of guilt all these years.’
    • ‘You can suffer agonies of rejection when you sign off with ‘Love’, only to receive ‘Best wishes’ in return.’
    • ‘For years, he has suffered the nightmares and the agonies that, by all rights, should be ours too.’
    • ‘Very many others suffered those same physical agonies.’
    • ‘Mr Handley, like so many of his fellow farmers up and down the land, must have been suffering agonies of worry as the weeks grind on and foot and mouth continues to ravage the land.’
    • ‘The hospital is filthy, without drugs, and women who used to be nurses sit in the corner doing embroidery while patients suffer agonies without pain relief.’
    • ‘And next month the agonies begin all over again.’
    • ‘It cannot be right that we should force people to suffer endless, needless agonies, knowing they will not get better.’
    pain, hurt, suffering, torture, torment, anguish, affliction, trauma
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The final stages of a difficult or painful death.
      ‘his last agony’
      ‘the death agony’
      • ‘As Jesus approached death he suffered agonies of mind and spirit that plunged him into uncharted depths.’
      • ‘Diaries kept by two of them recorded the indescribable agonies they had suffered as their lives ebbed slowly away.’
      • ‘We want to ensure they have a dignified death and do not die in agony.’
      • ‘One can hardly feel the intensity of the agony that he is supposed to have endured in his final hours on earth.’
      • ‘Only by concerted action can we counter the sheer humanity of those who wish to prolong the agony of death.’


Late Middle English (originally denoting mental anguish alone): via Old French and late Latin from Greek agōnia, from agōn ‘contest’. The sense of physical suffering dates from the early 17th century.