Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical.
tr.v. ag·gra·vat·ed, ag·gra·vat·ing, ag·gra·vates
1. To make worse or more troublesome: aggravate political tensions; aggravate a medical condition.
2. To annoy or exasperate: The child's whining aggravated me. See Synonyms at annoy.
[Latin aggravāre, aggravāt- : ad-, ad- + gravāre, to burden (from gravis, heavy; see gwerə- 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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.