exasperate - Irritate intensely; infuriate.

I've seen many entries in dictionaries that have two set of definition like the above "irritate intensely" and "infuriate". What does this mean?

If I use this word in a sentence, will it mean both "infuriate" and "irritate intensely" or either one? For example if you consider the sample sentence below, did they walk intensely irritatedly or in infuriation, or both?

We paced up and down in exasperation.

  • 3
    Here, the difference between "infuriate" and "irritate intensely" is minor and subtle; those are two different shades of the same basic emotion. The word can convey one or the other, or it can refer to somewhere in between those two points on the "annoyance spectrum".
    – J.R.
    May 31, 2013 at 2:36
  • 2
    A dictionary definition of a word gives a range of terms which overlap the keyword in various contexts, not terms which can be substituted in all contexts. May 31, 2013 at 2:36
  • 3
    Irritated and angry are on the same continuum. Exasperated is the interface between them.
    – Daniel
    May 31, 2013 at 15:58
  • It means to annoy, irritate, irk, peeve, anger, bother, bug, aggravate, frustrate. You have to judge the intensity and nature of the emotion from the use in context.
    – TimR
    Oct 23, 2014 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


If I read that in a book (we paced up and down in exasperation) - I would take it to mean much more tame than infuriate or or irritation.

It's more like 'She was always late and it exasperated her husband' or 'The meetings are exasperating, but necessary.' -- If you were exasperated you would roll your eyes or shake your head, but you wouldn't punch someone... for example.

  • 1
    I kind of agree with you there, but there can be instances when exasperation builds up so much that you "lose your temper". I think, it is one of the stages in an escalation towards anger.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 14, 2013 at 22:45

The term "exasperation" includes the notion of getting tired of someone or something, and, in turn, losing one's patience and becoming angry.

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