Definition of exasperate in English:



  • Irritate intensely; infuriate.

    ‘this futile process exasperates prison officials’
    ‘she grew exasperated with his inability to notice anything’
    • ‘She loved her sister dearly and always would, but sometimes Staicie had the infuriating knack of being able to effortlessly exasperate a saint.’
    • ‘After almost thirty years exasperating the Left, he now turned to enraging the Right.’
    • ‘It's always more complicated than that, as annoying people are known to say with exasperating regularity.’
    • ‘Privately, court officials admit they are becoming increasingly exasperated by the very system they serve.’
    • ‘If she makes one really good observation but then at another point she exasperates you with her complete failure to at all get what you're trying to tell her, do you dump her or give it another try?’
    • ‘In contrast to his vigour and emotional buoyancy later in seeing off the so-called fuel blockade, this dark episode was equally to infuriate, exhaust and exasperate the First Minister.’
    • ‘What reasonable people on both sides of the argument share is a common desire for fairness, but what exasperates many is that tolerance should extend to those who refuse to display any of that quality to their neighbours.’
    • ‘Speed bumps definitely do make you slow down, and taxi drivers take sadistic pleasure in exasperating their passengers by coming almost to a halt in front of them.’
    • ‘An unreliable boyfriend at the best of times, Shaun persistently exasperates Liz by insisting they spend all their waking hours in the Winchester Arms, their local boozer.’
    • ‘But speculation that he may quit Britain for America exasperates him.’
    • ‘Though the monk admits to some concern about death by a staged accident, more time behind bars he can contemplate with an equanimity that exasperates authorities.’
    • ‘What you have to do with a book, a simple, obvious, exasperating difficult thing, is, read it.’
    • ‘His Blair-type zeal took rotation, rotation, rotation to the most exasperating degree.’
    • ‘I took many exasperating telephone calls from the press during my time in Downing Street, but one in particular sticks in my mind.’
    • ‘But for most of us, it will be the low point of an incredibly exasperating week.’
    • ‘Derrida is so perversely myopic a reader, doggedly pursuing the finest flickers of meaning across a page, that he exasperates some of his opponents with his supersubtlety, not his airy generality.’
    • ‘There are no more exasperating things that a neighbour can do than play dance music very loud.’
    • ‘He sometimes exasperates his journalistic contacts with a steady stream of press releases crammed with statistics, but it earned him kudos and contacts with the Scottish media that are now paying off.’
    • ‘Together, they build up a vivid picture of cricket's most exasperating sons.’
    • ‘Some supporters have grown exasperated by his inconsistent crossing.’
    infuriating, annoying, irritating, maddening, antagonizing, provoking, irking, irksome, vexing, vexatious, galling, trying, troublesome, bothersome, displeasing
    aggravating, cussed, pesky, confounded, infernal, plaguy, pestilent
    infuriate, incense, anger, annoy, irritate, madden, enrage, send into a rage, inflame, antagonize, provoke, irk, vex, gall, pique, try someone's patience, get on someone's nerves, make someone's blood boil, make someone's hackles rise, make someone see red, get someone's back up, rub up the wrong way, ruffle someone's feathers, drive to distraction
    aggravate, drive mad, drive crazy, bug, needle, rile, miff, hack off, get to, get at, get up someone's nose, get under someone's skin, put someone's nose out of joint, get someone's goat, give someone the hump, rattle someone's cage, get someone's dander up
    nark, wind up, get on someone's wick
    tee off, tick off, burn up, rankle, ride, gravel, bum out
    exacerbate, hump, rasp
    View synonyms


The verbs exasperate and exacerbate are sometimes confused. Exasperate, the more common of the two, means ‘irritate or annoy to an extreme degree’ (He calls me three times a day asking for money. It's exasperating!). Exacerbate means ‘increase the bitterness or severity of’ (the star shortstop's loud self-congratulations only exacerbated his teammates’ resentment)


Mid 16th century: from Latin exasperat- irritated to anger from the verb exasperare (based on asper rough).