Etymology
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agony (n.)

late 14c., "mental suffering" (especially that of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane), from Old French agonie, agoine "anguish, terror, death agony" (14c.), and directly from Late Latin agonia, from Greek agōnia "a struggle for victory" (in wrestling, etc.), in a general sense "exercise, gymnastics;" also of mental struggles, "agony, anguish." This is from agōn "assembly, mass of people brought together," especially to watch the games, hence, "a contest," then, generally, "any struggle or trial;" from the verb agein "put in motion, move" (here specifically as "assemble, bring together"), from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move."

Specifically of the struggle that precedes natural death (mortal agony) from 1540s. The sense development perhaps involves "pain so severe as to cause struggling." Sense of "extreme bodily suffering" is recorded by c. 1600.

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antagonize (v.)

1630s, "to compete with" (obsolete); 1742, "act in opposition to, struggle against continuously," from Greek antagonizesthai "to struggle against, oppose, be a rival," from anti "against" (see anti-) + agonizesthai "to contend for a prize," from agon "a struggle, a contest" (see agony). The meaning "make antagonistic" is by 1882. Related: Antagonized; antagonizing; antagonization.

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agonist (n.)

1876, in writings on Greek drama, "a hero (attacked in the play by an antagonist)," from Latin agonista, Greek agōnistes "rival combatant in the games, competitor; opponent (in a debate)," also, generally "one who struggles (for something)," from agōnia "a struggle for victory" (in wrestling, etc.), in a general sense "exercise, gymnastics;" also of mental struggles, "agony, anguish" (see agony). Agonistes as an (ironic) epithet seems to have been introduced in English by T.S. Eliot (1932).

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antagonism (n.)

"state of being mutually opposed; opposition between two things or against something," 1797, from French antagonisme or directly from late Greek antagonisma, noun of action from antagonizesthai "to struggle against, oppose, be a rival," from anti "against" (see anti-) + agonizesthai "to contend for a prize," from agon "a contest, a struggle" (see agony). Milton used antagony as a noun.

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antagonist (n.)

"one who contends with another," 1590s, from French antagoniste (16c.) or directly from Late Latin antagonista, from Greek antagonistēs "competitor, opponent, rival," agent noun from antagonizesthai "to struggle against, oppose, be a rival," from anti "against" (see anti-) + agonizesthai "to contend for a prize," from agon "a struggle, a contest" (see agony). Originally in battle or sport, extended 1620s to any sphere of human activity.

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agonize (v.)

1580s, "to torture" (trans.), from French agoniser (14c.) or directly from Medieval Latin agonizare "to labor, strive, contend," also "be at the point of death," from Greek agōnizesthai "contend in the struggle, contend for victory or a prize" (in reference to physical combat, stage competitions, lawsuits), from agōnia "a struggle for victory," originally "a struggle for victory in the games" (see agony). The intransitive sense of "suffer extreme physical pain" is recorded from 1660s; the mental sense of "to worry intensely" is from 1853. Related: Agonized; agonizing.

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agon (n.)

1650s, in reference to ancient Greece, "contest for a prize," from Greek agōn "struggle, trial," especially in the public games (see agony) but also of contests for prizes in poetry, theater, music. Meaning "verbal dispute between characters in a Greek play" is from 1887. Related: Agonal.

All over Greece we find all endeavor taking the form of a contest, an agon. Before the age of Archilochos, Sappho, and Alkman, we hear of contests of trumpets, city against city, the splendor of which tantalizes the imagination more than all the kings and archons in the history books. [Guy Davenport, "7 Greeks"]
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*ag- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to drive, draw out or forth, move."

It forms all or part of: act; action; active; actor; actual; actuary; actuate; agency; agenda; agent; agile; agitation; agony; ambagious; ambassador; ambiguous; anagogical; antagonize; apagoge; assay; Auriga; auto-da-fe; axiom; cache; castigate; coagulate; cogent; cogitation; counteract; demagogue; embassy; epact; essay; exact; exacta; examine; exigency; exiguous; fumigation; glucagon; hypnagogic; interact; intransigent; isagoge; litigate; litigation; mitigate; mystagogue; navigate; objurgate; pedagogue; plutogogue; prodigal; protagonist; purge; react; redact; retroactive; squat; strategy; synagogue; transact; transaction; variegate.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek agein "to lead, guide, drive, carry off," agon "assembly, contest in the games," agōgos "leader," axios "worth, worthy, weighing as much;" Sanskrit ajati "drives," ajirah "moving, active;" Latin actus "a doing; a driving, impulse, a setting in motion; a part in a play;" agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward," hence "to do, perform," agilis "nimble, quick;" Old Norse aka "to drive;" Middle Irish ag "battle."

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anguish (v.)

mid-14c., angwisshen, intransitive and reflexive ("be troubled or distressed; feel agony") and transitive ("cause grief, distress,or torment"); from Old French angoissier (12c., Modern French angoisser), from angoisse "distress, anxiety, rage" (see anguish (n.)). Related: Anguished; anguishing.

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grievance (n.)

c. 1300, "state of being aggrieved," from Old French grevance "harm, injury, misfortune; trouble, suffering, agony, sorrow," from grever "to harm, to burden, be harmful to" (see grief). In reference to a cause of such a condition, from late 15c.

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