Agitate means to stir up. If you watch a horror movie at bedtime, you may be too agitated to sleep. Movies like that can agitate all sorts of adrenaline responses in the body.

Agitate derives from a Latin word that means "to drive away." The meaning has changed, but you can see where old meets new—a washing machine agitates dirty clothes in warm soapy water to drive away the dirt. You agitate or shake up salad dressing to mix it, driving the oil away into the vinegar.

Definitions of agitate
  1. verb
    move or cause to move back and forth
    synonyms: shake
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    fluff up, plump up, shake up
    make fuller by shaking
    agitate the air
    move or jerk quickly and involuntarily up and down or sideways
    quake, tremor
    shake with seismic vibrations
    cause to throb or beat rapidly
    shake uncontrollably
    agitate by introducing air or compressed gas
    shake up, succuss
    shake; especially (a patient to detect fluids or air in the body)
    shake violently
    shake and cause to make a rattling noise
    convulse, jactitate, slash, thrash, thrash about, thresh, thresh about, toss
    move or stir about violently
    jiggle, joggle, wiggle
    move to and fro
    blow on
    shiver, shudder, thrill, throb
    tremble convulsively, as from fear or excitement
    palpitate, quake, quiver
    shake with fast, tremulous movements
    thrash about flexibly in the manner of a whiplash
    wag, waggle
    move from side to side
    type of:
    move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion
  2. verb
    change the arrangement or position of
    synonyms: commove, disturb, raise up, shake up, stir up, vex
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    beat, scramble
    stir vigorously
    rile, roil
    make turbid by stirring up the sediments of
    stir by poking
    put clothes in a tumbling barrel, where they are whirled about in hot air, usually with the purpose of drying
    whip, whisk
    whip with or as if with a wire whisk
    make creamy by beating
    muddle, puddle
    make into a puddle
    type of:
    displace, move
    cause to move or shift into a new position or place, both in a concrete and in an abstract sense
  3. verb
    move very slightly
    synonyms: budge, shift, stir
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    type of:
    move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion
  4. verb
    cause to be agitated, excited, or roused
    synonyms: charge, charge up, commove, excite, rouse, turn on
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    calm, calm down, lull, quiet, quieten, still, tranquilize, tranquillise, tranquillize
    make calm or still
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    hype up, psych up
    get excited or stimulated
    make nervous or agitated
    make upset or troubled
    excite suddenly and intensely
    type of:
    disturb, trouble, upset
    move deeply
  5. verb
    exert oneself continuously, vigorously, or obtrusively to gain an end or engage in a crusade for a certain cause or person; be an advocate for
    synonyms: campaign, crusade, fight, press, push
    advertise, advertize, promote, push
    make publicity for; try to sell (a product)
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    type of:
    advertise, advertize, promote, push
    make publicity for; try to sell (a product)
  6. verb
    try to stir up (e.g., public opinion)
    synonyms: foment, stir up
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    cause a disturbance
    type of:
    provoke, stimulate
    provide the needed stimulus for
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