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agon +‎ -ism, from Latin agōn, from Ancient Greek ἀγών (agṓn, contest).


  • IPA(key): /ˈæɡ.əˌnɪz.əm/



agonism (plural agonisms)

  1. Competitive struggle (especially political).
    • 2007, Diego A. Von Vacano, The Art of Power: Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and the Making of Aesthetic Political Theory, Lexington Books, →ISBN, page 82:
      The internal competition between tendencies or natures that Machiavelli recognizes in individuals and groups and that Nietzsche sees as multiple drives is a form of “agonism.” Agonism is the idea that conflict and struggle are the natural basis of life and that this is replicated in social, political, and cultural life.
    • 2023 August 23, Oliver Haynes, “European conservative parties are out of ideas, but absorbing the far right isn’t the answer”, in The Guardian[1], →ISSN:
      This is where the great replacement comes in. As mendacious and deranged as it is, it provides a structural explanation for various aspects of the polycrisis, and comes with in-built agonism for politicians to exploit.
  2. (biochemistry) The relationship between an agonist and a receptor.

Derived terms