Definition of antagonism in English:



  • 1Active hostility or opposition.

    ‘the antagonism between them’
    ‘his antagonism toward the local people’
    [count noun] ‘petty antagonisms and jealousies’
    • ‘This suddenly changed the long-standing political antagonism between the East and the West.’
    • ‘Both relationships are made difficult by a shared awareness of a history of mutual antagonism between ethnic groups.’
    • ‘The antagonism between races in the city is nothing compared with the fear of it felt by those outside.’
    • ‘So much of the way people behave in negotiations causes anger, bitterness, hostility or antagonism.’
    • ‘He said antagonism between the French teenagers and local youths had built up over the weekend, with a number of verbal exchanges.’
    • ‘The year-end election is likely to revive antagonism between the government and the opposition.’
    • ‘Open public antagonism towards farmers will not help them, their communities or the rest of us.’
    • ‘The petty point-scoring highlights the deepening antagonism between the rivals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For on a national level, New Labour has long since abandoned any Old Labour-style antagonism towards private education.’
    • ‘In the early nineteenth century, the old British antagonism between Celts and Saxons was put on a biological footing.’
    • ‘Why, though, if truth is so wonderful, and so obtainable, is there so much antagonism toward science?’
    • ‘The legal system can seek to limit family members' antagonism towards one another, particularly when relationships are ending.’
    • ‘Very often it is our discrimination against them that helps nurture their antagonism towards us.’
    • ‘And there often is an assumption that it is about hostility or antagonism between men and women.’
    • ‘What lies behind all this, I believe, is a deep sense of the fundamental antagonism between the government and the people it governs.’
    • ‘Our natural state is antagonism towards authority and a general feeling of disenchantment.’
    • ‘The symbolic separation and opposition aside, the personal antagonism between the two men is not imagined by the media.’
    • ‘This perception has caused resentment, antagonism, and opposition to the West.’
    • ‘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.’
    hostility, friction, enmity, antipathy, animus, opposition, dissension, rivalry, feud, conflict, discord, contention
    acrimony, bitterness, rancour, resentment, aversion, dislike, ill feeling, bad feeling, ill will, bad blood, hatred, hate, loathing, detestation, abhorrence, odium
    malice, spite, spitefulness, venom, malevolence, malignity
    grudges, grievances
    View synonyms
    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).