1520s, "make heavy, burden down," from Latin aggravatus, past participle of aggravare "to render more troublesome," literally "to make heavy or heavier, add to the weight of," from ad "to" (see ad-) + gravare "weigh down," from gravis "heavy" (from PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy"). The literal sense in English has become obsolete; meaning "to make a bad thing worse" is from 1590s; colloquial sense "exasperate, annoy" is from 1610s. The earlier English verb was aggrege "make heavier or more burdensome; make more oppressive; increase, intensify" (late 14c.), from Old French agreger.
To aggravate has properly only one meaning — to make (an evil) worse or more serious. [Fowler]
updated on August 19, 2020