Definition of antagonism in US English:



  • 1Active hostility or opposition.

    ‘the antagonism between them’
    ‘his antagonism toward the local people’
    ‘petty antagonisms and jealousies’
    • ‘Our natural state is antagonism towards authority and a general feeling of disenchantment.’
    • ‘For on a national level, New Labour has long since abandoned any Old Labour-style antagonism towards private education.’
    • ‘Very often it is our discrimination against them that helps nurture their antagonism towards us.’
    • ‘He said antagonism between the French teenagers and local youths had built up over the weekend, with a number of verbal exchanges.’
    • ‘So much of the way people behave in negotiations causes anger, bitterness, hostility or antagonism.’
    • ‘What lies behind all this, I believe, is a deep sense of the fundamental antagonism between the government and the people it governs.’
    • ‘In 1959 he became professor, by which time he had welcomed in the new NHS and done much to make his colleagues overcome their antagonism towards it.’
    • ‘This suddenly changed the long-standing political antagonism between the East and the West.’
    • ‘In the early nineteenth century, the old British antagonism between Celts and Saxons was put on a biological footing.’
    • ‘Both relationships are made difficult by a shared awareness of a history of mutual antagonism between ethnic groups.’
    • ‘The legal system can seek to limit family members' antagonism towards one another, particularly when relationships are ending.’
    • ‘This perception has caused resentment, antagonism, and opposition to the West.’
    • ‘The symbolic separation and opposition aside, the personal antagonism between the two men is not imagined by the media.’
    • ‘Open public antagonism towards farmers will not help them, their communities or the rest of us.’
    • ‘I am very sorry that some contributors to your letters page seem to be trying to encourage antagonism between different areas of the city hit by the floods.’
    • ‘The antagonism between races in the city is nothing compared with the fear of it felt by those outside.’
    • ‘The petty point-scoring highlights the deepening antagonism between the rivals.’
    • ‘And there often is an assumption that it is about hostility or antagonism between men and women.’
    • ‘The year-end election is likely to revive antagonism between the government and the opposition.’
    • ‘Why, though, if truth is so wonderful, and so obtainable, is there so much antagonism toward science?’
    hostility, friction, enmity, antipathy, animus, opposition, dissension, rivalry, feud, conflict, discord, contention
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    1. 1.1Biochemistry Inhibition of or interference with the action of one substance or organism by another.
      • ‘This concept helps link mutualism to antagonisms such as herbivory, predation, and parasitism, interactions defined largely by the existence of costs.’
      • ‘As in biochemistry, antagonism in pharmacology is not restricted to competition.’
      • ‘In order to understand the structural basis for pterin antagonism, selected derivatives were docked into the NOS pterin binding cavity.’


Early 19th century: from French antagonisme, from Greek antagōnizesthai ‘struggle against’ (see antagonist).