n. pl. ag·o·nies
a. The suffering of intense physical or mental pain: The injured soldier writhed in agony.
b. An instance of such suffering: the agonies of adolescence.
2. A sudden or intense emotion: "Jones then fell upon his knees, and kissed her hand in an agony of joy" (Henry Fielding).
3. A violent, intense struggle, especially the struggle that precedes death.
[Middle English agonie, from Old French, from Late Latin agōnia, from Greek agōniā, from agōn, struggle, from agein, to drive; see ag- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.