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Etymology 1[edit]

A 2000 map of the International Geomagnetic Reference Field, which describes the Earth’s magnetic field and its declination. The agonic lines (sense 2), which join points of zero magnetic declination, are thicker and labelled with “0”.

From Ancient Greek ᾰ̓- (a-, the alpha privativum, a prefix forming words having a sense opposite to the word or stem to which it is attached) + γωνία (gōnía, angle) +‎ -ic.



agonic (not comparable)

  1. (geometry) Lacking an angle.
  2. (cartography, navigation) Having a magnetic deviation of zero.
    • 1852, Dionysius Lardner, “Terrestrial Magnetism”, in Hand-book of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, second course (Heat—Common Electricity—Magnetism—Voltaic Electricity), London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly, Upper Gower Street, and Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row, OCLC 6509465, book II (Magnetism), paragraph 1661, page 172:
      There are two lines on the earth's surface which have been called agonic lines, upon which there is no declination; and where, therefore, the needle is directed along the terrestrial meridian.
    • 1872 January 10, John H. Tice, “[Proceedings of the Missouri Horticultural Society at the Thirteenth Annual Meeting Held at Kansas City, January 9–11, 1872.] Meteorology”, in John F. Wielandy, editor, Seventh Annual Report of the State Board of Agriculture, with an Abstract of the Proceedings of Agricultural and Horticultural Societies for the Year 1871, Jefferson City, Mo.: Regan & Edwards, public printers, OCLC 424647416, pages 73–74:
      It is contended by some that their [cyclones'] general movement is at right angles to the magnetic meridian. If this should prove to be correct, then in all that part of the United States lying west of the Agonic Line, the general direction whence local rain, hail, and snow-storms come, will be as many degrees north of west as the declination of the needle is east of north; and in all that part of the territory lying east of said Agonic Line, they will come from a direction as many degrees south of west as the declination of the needle is west of north.
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agonic (plural agonics)

  1. Synonym of agonic line.
    • 1852, Dionysius Lardner, “Terrestrial Magnetism”, in Hand-book of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, second course (Heat—Common Electricity—Magnetism—Voltaic Electricity), London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly, Upper Gower Street, and Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row, OCLC 6509465, book II (Magnetism), paragraphs 1661–1662, page 172:
      One of these [agonic lines] passes over the American and the other over the Asiatic continent, and the former has consequently been called the American and the latter the Asiatic agonic. [] On the west of the Asiatic agonic the declination is west, on the east it is east.
    • 1895, The American Journal of Science, New Haven, Conn.: J[ames] D[wight] & E[dward] S[alisbury] Dana, ISSN 0002-9599, OCLC 213801576, page 321:
      It should be noted that the period of 2000 years deduced from the average motion of the agonics is identical with that which we obtain if we suppose that the secondary magnetic system revolves around the equator at the average rate of the two secondary poles, viz: 3600.194 = 1860 years.

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Etymology 2[edit]

Borrowed from French agonique (possessing or filled with agony; agonous), from agonie (the moment just before death) + -ique (suffix forming adjectives from nouns) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *-kos (suffix forming adjectives denoting ‘the characteristic of, typical of, pertaining to’)). Agonie is ultimately derived from Ancient Greek ἀγωνίᾱ (agōníā, agony, anguish), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eǵ- (to drive).



agonic (not comparable)

  1. Characterized by agony.
    • 1986, George Armstrong Kelly, Mortal Politics in Eighteenth-century France, Waterloo, Ont.: University of Waterloo Press, →ISBN, page 81:
      By cultivating his own reason, the pupil could stand back from the agonic scenes in Hades and decide the merits of the case after [François] Fénelon's artifice had absorbed him passionately in the dialogue: []
    • 2001, Leslie David Blasius, “Nietzsche, Riemann, Wagner: Where Music Lies”, in Suzannah Clark and Alexander Rehding, editors, Music Theory and Natural Order from the Renaissance to the Early Twentieth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 99:
      Thus, the opening citation, the eleventh section of The Case of Wagner, the passage which perhaps is the zenith of [Friedrich] Nietzsche's irony, is succeeded by the brief agonic cry of the twelfth section: []
    • 2007, Guillermina De Ferrari, “Lurking Shadows: Ethnography, Colonialism, and Crime in Patrick Chamoiseau’s Solibo Magnifique”, in Vulnerable States: Bodies of Memory in Contemporary Caribbean Fiction (New World Studies), Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press, →ISBN, page 29:
      Eagerly following the convention of crick-crack stories, his audience, entranced by Solibo's words and the rhythmic sound of the gwo-ka, duly responds Patat'si to Solibo's agonic cry.
  2. (psychology) Of a mode of social interaction based on threats, displays of power, or inducements of anxiety.
    Antonym: hedonic
    • 1989, Paul Gilbert, “The Mapping of Human Nature”, in Human Nature and Suffering, Hove, East Sussex: Lawrence Erlbaum, →ISBN; classic edition, Abingdon, Oxon.; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2017, →ISBN, page 52:
      [I]n some primates, especially chimpanzees, the hedonic mode of social communication predominates group interactions. [] This is marked by much physical contact, stroking, hugging, lip smacking and sharing. The social interactions are more relaxed, as are the individual members of the group, and there is much focus on physical contact. This is in marked contrast to other more primitive primates, where the agonic mode dominates social behaviour.
    • 2007, Warren D. TenHouten, “The Sociorelational Approach to the Emotions: Four Elementary Forms of Sociality”, in A General Theory of Emotions and Social Life, Abingdon, Oxon.; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, page 114:
      Through comparative study of the behavior of the higher primates and humans, Michael Chance (1988) distinguishes between agonic and hedonic forms of social organization. The agonic–hedonic distinction has two limitations which have led to its disuse in contemporary primatology. First, Chance and his collaborators have clung to the untenable generalization that monkey society is agonic and ape society hedonic. This oversimplifies the complexities of the social and emotional lives of both major kinds of primate species.
    • 2009, Maria Elizabeth Grabe; Erik Page Bucy, “Facing the Electorate”, in Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections (Series in Political Psychology), New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 177:
      Depictions of agonic displays, on the other hand, increased from the opening phase of the campaign to the debate period and then droped off as Election Day approached. The drop-off in the last stage of the campaign supports the expectation that expressive behavior would be more positive and less varied over time, with the added nuance that agonic displays increased in the debate period before tapering off.
    • 2009, Christopher C. Robinson, “Theorizing as a Lived Experience: A Wittgensteinian Investigation”, in Wittgenstein and Political Theory: The View from Somewhere, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, →ISBN, page 34:
      Moreover, these essential rules form rigid boundaries separating "us" from "them," friends from enemies, as in [Carl] Schmitt's influential work, and are delineated within political relations described as agonic. Eschewing liberal bourgeois notions of politics as compromise exposes this agonic or polemical quality of the political.
  3. (medicine, obsolete) Occurring shortly before death; agonal.
    • 1907 July 20, P. L. Hipsley, “The Etiology of Intussusception”, in George E. Rennie, editor, The Australasian Medical Gazette: The Journal of the Australasian Branches of the British Medical Association, volume XXVI, number 7 (number 310 from the start), Sydney, N.S.W.: Published by the New South Wales Branch of the British Medical Association, at 121 Bathurst Street, Sydney, OCLC 297235549, page 339, column 2:
      A study of the conditions under which agonic invagination of the intestine occurs will not be out of place in considering the etiology of intussusception. Agonic invagination is very much more common in children than adults, the proportion being, according to [Hermann] Nothnagel, one to fifty. [Luther Emmett] Holt says that agonic invagination is met with in 80 per cent. of the post mortems on infants.
    • 1914, The Medical Chronicle: A Monthly Record of the Progress of the Medical Sciences, volume XXVI (series IV), Manchester: Sherratt & Hughes, OCLC 490258783, page 550:
      The author is entirely at one with Brockbank that platelets are agonic products of red cells and dismisses the other theories shortly.
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