People who chew with their mouths open often aggravate the people near them, meaning that they exasperate their neighbors.

One trick for remembering the meaning of aggravate is to recall that it rhymes with one of its synonyms, irritate. When you irritate, you aggravate. Younger brothers often aggravate their older brothers, because they find it entertaining to get a reaction out of them. Aggravate is also used to mean "make worse." For example, if you have an old knee injury, it's probably best not to climb Mount Everest, because you might aggravate the injury. If your house is in foreclosure, calling your banker an ugly name is likely only to aggravate the situation. Try a little sweet talk instead!

Definitions of aggravate
  1. verb
    make worse
    “This drug aggravates the pain”
    synonyms: exacerbate, exasperate, worsen
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    ameliorate, amend, better, improve, meliorate
    make better
    ameliorate, better, improve, meliorate
    get better
    show more antonyms...
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    excite to an abnormal condition, or chafe or inflame
    cause inflammation in
    cheapen, degrade
    lower the grade of something; reduce its worth
    devaluate, devalue
    remove the value from; deprive of its value
    chafe, fret, gall
    become or make sore by or as if by rubbing
    itch, rub, scratch
    scrape or rub as if to relieve itching
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  2. verb
    exasperate or irritate
    synonyms: exacerbate, exasperate
    see moresee less
    type of:
    make angry
Commonly confused words

aggravate / irritate

Aggravate means to make something worse, and irritate is to annoy. But if you use aggravate to mean "annoy," no one will notice. That battle has been lost in all but the most formal writing.

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