Student Dictionary

One entry found for agony.
Main Entry: agony
Pronunciation: primarystressag-schwa-nemacron
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -nies
Etymology: Middle English agonie "agony," from Latin agonia (same meaning), from Greek agomacrnia "struggle," from agomacrn "gathering, contest for a prize"
1 : intense pain of mind or body
2 : a strong sudden display of emotion : OUTBURST <an agony of delight>
Word History In ancient Greece a public gathering was called agomacrn. Since the Greeks placed a high value on sports and athletic competition, there were almost always athletic events at gatherings on festival days. The struggle to win the prize in such contests came to be called agomacrnia. This term came also to be used for any difficult physical struggle and then for the pain that went with it, physical or mental. Our English word agony, meaning "intense pain of mind or body," thus comes from a word that originally meant a happy celebration.

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