Verb – Antagonize
“Antagonize” has Greek roots that literally mean “to struggle against” or “to compete with.” Inside this word, you can almost see anti, meaning “against,” and agonizesthai, meaning “to compete.”
If we happen to be talking about muscle groups or other physical forces, then to antagonize something is to work against it: to do the opposite movement, or to cancel it out.
But generally speaking, to antagonize people or groups is to bother them and treat them like an enemy, as if you’re trying to pull them into a fight or a competition.
Part of speech:
It’s a verb, the transitive kind: “she keeps antagonizing him,” “their comments antagonized the whole community.”
There’s “antagonized” and “antagonizing.”
For an adjective, use “antagonizing,” “antagonistic;” or, less commonly, “antagonistical.” The adverb is “antagonistically.”
For a noun, pick whichever sounds best to you: “antagonism;” “antagonization;” or, if you like your nouns compact and elegant, “antagony,” pronounced “an TAG uh nee.”
The people doing the antagonizing can be called “antagonists” or “antagonizers.”
how to use it:
Talk about people or groups antagonizing other people or groups, often by making statements or hurling insults, and often on purpose but sometimes accidentally. “Ignore these trolls; they’re just trying to antagonize you for liking Beyoncé.”
Although it’s usually people doing the antagonizing, you can also talk about how certain statements, actions, decisions, and events antagonize people. Even someone’s silence, or someone’s lack of action, can be antagonizing.
“‘Whenever somebody misses a question, [Shawn Gause] cackles this really loud, horribly grating cackle. And if it’s an easy question, he’ll be like, “How could anybody not know that?” Everybody else is just trying to have fun, but he treats it like it’s the friggin’ Super Bowl.’ Gause has antagonized nearly every person at McSorley’s, including Larry Olberding, his friend and former teammate.”
— The Onion, 1 May 2002
“Shelley and Hogg’s decision to publish Shelley’s Necessity of Atheism, together with their sending copies of it to the conservative Oxford dons, seems more calculated to antagonize authority than to persuade by rational argument… The Oxford authorities acted swiftly and decisively, expelling both Shelley and Hogg.”
— PoetryFoundation.org’s biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 2020