Meaning of agonistic in English:


Pronunciation /ˌaɡəˈnɪstɪk/


  • 1Polemical; combative.

    ‘an agonistic exchange’
    • ‘Now, as we all know, I am not a huge fan of speculations about essential differences between the sexes, although I do get that what Tannen is saying there is that there's no real reason that political discourse must necessarily be agonistic.’
    • ‘Baudrillard contends, through an adaptation of Mauss, that all systems regulate themselves through dual, agonistic movements.’
    • ‘In this case, the narratives tend to have a less univocally negative or agonistic flavor and reflect both the triumphs and tribulations of an individual's life experiences.’
    • ‘The agonistic approach can create an atmosphere of defensiveness and fear - we saw it here over the foreshore and seabed debate.’
    • ‘To do so is to embrace an agonistic romanticism of perpetually unfulfilled longing and desire.’
    1. 1.1Zoology (of animal behaviour) associated with conflict.
      ‘The agonistic behavior of many group-living animals, such as wintering passerines, ranges from overt aggression to more or less ritualized threat displays.’
      • ‘Rank was ascertained by observation of agonistic interactions between study animals.’
      • ‘In July 1997, we quantified only chases directed at other fish (some of which concluded with nips at other fish) because this was the most prevalent agonistic behavior we observed.’
      • ‘In addition, we recorded all occurrences of the following agonistic behaviors: chases, fights, parallel runs, and squeal displays.’
      • ‘Although there are no footdrumming exchanges, agonistic interactions are avoided because footdrumming is done exclusively inside the burrow by the kangaroo rat avoiding contact with the one outside the burrow.’
  • 2Biochemistry
    Relating to or acting as an agonist.

    ‘Nicotine and the snake venom also bind these receptors with agonistic and antagonistic effects, respectively.’
    • ‘It has both agonistic actions and weak opioid antagonistic activity.’
    • ‘Apomorphine is also currently under study for use in the therapy of male impotence because of its dopamine agonistic effects.’
    • ‘Morphine and like narcotic agonists have agonistic actions.’
    • ‘In addition, they may have agonistic effects on the noradrenergic and serotonin systems.’


Mid 17th century via late Latin from Greek agōnistikos, from agōnistēs ‘contestant’ (see agonist).