transitive verbag·gra·vat·ed, ag·gra·vat·ing, ag·gra·vates
- To make worse or more troublesome: aggravate political tensions; aggravate a medical condition.
- To annoy or exasperate: The child's whining aggravated me. See Synonyms at annoy.
Origin of aggravate
Latin aggravāre aggravāt- ad- ad- gravāre to burden
( from gravis heavy
; see gwerə-1
in Indo-European roots.)
Usage Note: Aggravate comes from the Latin verb aggravāre, which meant “to make heavier,” that is, “to add to the weight of.” It also had the extended senses “to burden” or “to oppress.” On the basis of this etymology, it is claimed by some that aggravate should not be used to mean “to irritate, annoy, rouse to anger.” But such senses for the word date back to the 17th century and are pervasive. In our 2005 survey, 83 percent of the Usage Panel accepted this usage in the sentence: It's the endless wait for luggage that aggravates me the most about air travel. This was a significant increase from the 68 percent who accepted the same sentence in 1988.
(third-person singular simple present aggravates, present participle aggravating, simple past and past participle aggravated)
- To make worse, or more severe; to render less tolerable or less excusable; to make more offensive; to enhance; to intensify.
- To aggravate my woes. —Alexander Pope
- To aggravate the horrors of the scene. —William H. Prescott.
- The defense made by the prisoner's counsel did rather aggravate than extenuate his crime. —Addison.
- To give coloring to in description; to exaggerate; as, to aggravate circumstances. — William Paley.
- To exasperate; to provoke, to irritate.
- Although the meaning "to exasperate, to annoy" has been in continuous usage since the 16th century, a large number of usage mavens have contested it since the 1870s. Opinions have swayed from this proscription since 1965, but it still garners disapproval in Garner's Modern American Usage (2009), at least for formal writing.
From Latin aggravatus, past participle of aggravare (“to add to the weight of, make worse, oppress, annoy”), from ad (“to”) + gravare (“to make heavy”), from gravis (“heavy”). See grave and compare aggrieve and aggredge.