Definition of irritate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Make (someone) annoyed, impatient, or angry.

    ‘his tone irritated her’
    no object ‘his voice tends to irritate’
    • ‘Her screechy voice really irritated me, but it's not in my nature to blow people off.’
    • ‘The situation was made worse when Jason made a remark that had irritated her.’
    • ‘Ryan asked, but Meg could tell he wasn't irritated; his tone was teasingly amiable.’
    • ‘And this colonial attitude is something that really irritates the hell out of people who live in rural areas.’
    • ‘They struck me from all sides, caught me unaware, caught me speechless, angered me and irritated me to no end.’
    • ‘I am extremely irritated when people take photos with the camera tilted.’
    • ‘Later that evening, Jenny remarked that she was irritated with Sara.’
    • ‘I was talking the other day about types of people who irritate me.’
    • ‘I am incredibly irritated by people who don't think for themselves before asking questions.’
    • ‘Towards the end, the very sound of his voice irritated me.’
    • ‘She was mildly irritated by the fact he didn't wait for her.’
    • ‘She asked hopefully in a sweet tone though she was irritated by the man she had just taken an order from.’
    • ‘Her voice was starting to irritate him; it was high pitched and squeaky.’
    • ‘Their loud voices were beginning to irritate me and I could feel my headache sharpen.’
    • ‘It really irritates me that people in the military have to pay tax while they are away fighting for their country.’
    • ‘Carver was surprised that his views irritated so many people.’
    • ‘The maniacal, simplistic tone of this book is guaranteed to irritate anyone who ever had a thought of their own.’
    • ‘You're irritated because people tend to forget who you are when you participate in things.’
    • ‘That angered me and irritated me and threw me, and I'm sure that was the case with a lot of actors from New York.’
    • ‘When it comes to people, they irritate the hell out of each other.’
    annoy, vex, make angry, make cross, anger, exasperate, bother, irk, gall, pique, put out, displease, get someone's back up, put someone's back up, antagonize, get on someone's nerves, rub up the wrong way, try someone's patience, ruffle, ruffle someone's feathers, make someone's hackles rise, raise someone's hackles
    annoyed, cross, angry, vexed, exasperated, irked, piqued, displeased, put out, fed up, disgruntled, in a bad mood, in a temper, testy, in high dudgeon, huffy, in a huff, resentful, aggrieved
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Cause inflammation or other discomfort in (a part of the body).
      • ‘Bulky socks often fit poorly, and a poor fit can irritate your skin.’
      • ‘Air that is too dry can irritate the lining of your nose, throat and sinuses and may even cause the lining of your nose to bleed.’
      • ‘The top of the femoral canal may be reinforced by a mesh made of a synthetic material that does not irritate the body.’
      • ‘The player cannot twist or turn and the more work they do causes the pain to increase because inflammation irritates the nervous system.’
      • ‘Pulling hay from above causes dust and mold to become airborne, irritating the respiratory tract.’
      • ‘It may irritate and inflame the eyelids and the white part of the eye.’
      • ‘In children who develop asthma, the airways become irritated and inflamed.’
      • ‘A long, hot shower or bath to warm up after being outside dries and irritates skin.’
      • ‘Some topical acne medicines may irritate your skin, especially in the first few weeks that you use them.’
      • ‘Also, some bales may contain fungi or dust that may irritate the respiratory tract of horses.’
      • ‘Acne medicine might irritate your skin or make it too dry.’
      • ‘Without the protection of the eyelid, the inside of the eyelid and the surface of your eye may become dry, irritated and inflamed.’
      • ‘Tobacco smoke irritates sinus linings, leading to inflammation and blocked passages.’
      • ‘Radiation therapy can irritate healthy tissue in its path.’
      • ‘Even though it is natural, senna is harsh and can irritate the lower digestive tract.’
      • ‘After washing, pat the skin dry, don't irritate it by rubbing vigorously.’
      • ‘Every single square inch of your body is irritated.’
      • ‘Instead, the acid irritates the lining of the gullet, causing the burning pain.’
      • ‘Gauderman believes chronic inflammation may play a role, with air pollutants irritating small airways on a daily basis.’
      • ‘This constant backwash of acid can irritate the lining of your esophagus, causing it to be irritated and inflamed.’
      inflame, aggravate
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Biology Stimulate (an organism, cell, or organ) to produce an active response.
      • ‘The implanted electrodes may irritate the snake to such an extent that it may never reach basal condition.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘excite, provoke’): from Latin irritat- ‘irritated’, from the verb irritare.