2

"Annoy:" means:

To make someone slightly angry or upset:

  • I know you’re doing this only to annoy me.

"Irritate:" means:

to make someone angry or annoyed:

  • After a while her behaviour really began to irritate me.

"Bother:" means:

to annoy or cause problems for someone:

  • The noise was beginning to bother us, so we left.

To me, when someone gets: "annoyed" or "irritated" or "bothered", an unpleasant stimulant has distracted his/her tranquility, comfort or peace of mind.

The only distinguishing factor that comes to mind is that **"irritate" sounds a bit more formal than the other two for everyday speech and people tend to use it mostly in written English as an alternative for "annoy" and "bother".

All that said, I wonder if you could help me to know what word is more appropriate in each one of the sentences below.

Also please let me know why do you think that way, so that I could find out how do they sound to you.

  1. He is a very kind and considerate man, but I don't know why he treated us like that at the party! His behavior really ................ me.

a. annoyed
b. irritated
c. bothered

  1. Excuse me sir. Does my cigarette's smoke ............... you?

a. annoy
b. irritate
c. bother

  1. It's too hot in the train! I know that it's windy outside, but would it ............... you if I open the window for a couple of minutes? [Said a man to his roommate]

a. annoy
b. irritate
c. bother

Note: for me all three choices mean pretty much the same thing in all scenarios above and can be used interchangeably.

  • You note indicates they can be used interchangeably, so why ask this again?? – Lambie Jun 30 '19 at 19:45
  • Because this is what a non native thinks based on dictionaries, not what is going on in the real world based on the way a native speaker looks at them. – A-friend Jul 1 '19 at 5:20
  • 1
    @Lambie "Because this is what a non native thinks based on dictionaries, not what is going on in the real world based on the way a native speaker looks at them." This is what A-friend wrote, but he apparently forgot to tag you, so I've done it in order for you to look at his comment. – Voldemort's Wrath Jul 1 '19 at 15:16
1

In all of your examples, all three are applicable depending on the context...

  1. He is a very kind and considerate man, but I don't know why he treated us like that at the party! His behavior really ................ me.

annoyed + irritated → basically the same for this example...

bothered → could mean worried (by the fact that he is generally kind but was rather rude at the party!) or could mean irritated (though worried might be a better usage for this word in this situation...

  1. Excuse me sir. Does my cigarette's smoke ............... you?

annoy + irritate + bother → all the same in this example (refer to the definitions you provided above for irritated and annoyed)

  1. It's too hot in the train! I know that it's windy outside, but would it ............... you if I open the window for a couple of minutes? [Said a man to his roommate]

annoy + irritate → probably not what you're looking for, but still could be used...

bother → probably what you would want to say; has the same essential meaning as annoy or irritate...


So, you'll notice that in all examples, annoy and irritate end up having the same meanings, but bother can sometimes be different. This is why I'd say with 98% confidence: annoy and irritate are synonyms.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Thank you very much @Interesting. That was really helpful. Just two other questions. 1. Is "irritate" a formal word which is used mostly in written English? I mean would it sound odd if one uses it in everyday speech? 2. Why bother works better in example 3 but not in example 2, (while in both of the situations, the person is indirectly apologizing for the possible inconvenience)? – A-friend Jul 1 '19 at 5:27
  • 1
    @A-friend -- 1) Yeah, irritate can be used in everyday conversation and for formal purposes. | 2) In the third example, cigarette smoke is something that would irritate, but bother just seems more correct because of its connotation. You can check the definitions that you provided in your question... – Voldemort's Wrath Jul 1 '19 at 12:36
0

The meanings of these words are indeed similar and overlap one another. There are, as usual in these cases, slight differences in usage or nuance.

"annoy" indeed means, to cause a small upset to someone. It most likely comes from a quite specific and often quite short-lived action. I am likely to get annoyed with one person, or some other single identifiable cause. "My brother really annoyed me yesterday". "The noise of the air conditioner was very annoying."

"irritate" usually means that the cause has gone on for some time. "My brother kept going on all day about wanting a toy dinosaur. I got quite irritated with him". "We enjoyed our holiday, but the mosquitoes were very irritating".

"bother" most often means you have been interrupted from what you were doing, or you have felt obliged to do something unpleasant. "Sorry to bother you, but could you help me with these boxes?". "Doing my homework last night was a real bother - I missed the football on television". There is also a common phrase "hot and bothered" which is less specific but suggests ill-temper brought on by warm weather and physical effort.

None of these areas of use are very tightly defined - I just mean to indicate that these words are each more commonly used in some circumstances than others.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.