The UVic Writer's Guide

Aggravate / Irritate

To aggravate is to make a bad situation worse:

The rabies aggravated the dog's already considerable temper.

To irritate is merely to annoy:

The professor was irritated by students who didn't understand the meaning of "aggravate."

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 22, 1995