1. excruciating or acute distress, suffering, or pain: the anguish of grief.

verb (used with object)

  1. to inflict with distress, suffering, or pain.

verb (used without object)

  1. to suffer, feel, or exhibit anguish: to anguish over the loss of a loved one.


  1. extreme pain or misery; mental or physical torture; agony


  1. to afflict or be afflicted with anguish

c.1200, “acute bodily or mental suffering,” from Old French anguisse, angoisse “choking sensation, distress, anxiety, rage,” from Latin angustia (plural angustiae) “tightness, straitness, narrowness;” figuratively “distress, difficulty,” from ang(u)ere “to throttle, torment” (see anger (v.)).


early 14c., intransitive and reflexive; mid-14c., transitive, from Old French anguissier (Modern French angoisser), from anguisse (see anguish (n.)). Related: Anguished; anguishing.

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