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-1 in the Appendix of 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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.