1791, "characterized by aggression, tending to make the first attack," with -ive + Latin aggress-, past participle stem of aggredi "to approach; to attempt; to attack," from ad "to" (see ad-) + gradi (past participle gressus) "to step," from gradus "a step," figuratively "a step toward something, an approach" (see grade (n.)). In psychological use from 1913, first in translations of Freud. Colloquial meaning "self-assertive, pushy" is from 1931. Related: Aggressively; aggressiveness.
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