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Middle English anguishe, angoise, from Anglo-Norman anguise, anguisse, from Old French angoisse, from Latin angustia (narrowness, difficulty, distress), from angustus (narrow, difficult), from angere (to press together). See angst, the Germanic cognate, and anger.



anguish (countable and uncountable, plural anguishes)

  1. Extreme pain, either of body or mind; excruciating distress.
    • Bible, Exodus vi. 9
      But they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
    • Latimer
      Ye miserable people, you must go to God in anguishes, and make your prayer to him.
    • 1889, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles:
      A terrible scream—a prolonged yell of horror and anguish—burst out of the silence of the moor. That frightful cry turned the blood to ice in my veins.


Related terms[edit]



anguish (third-person singular simple present anguishes, present participle anguishing, simple past and past participle anguished)

  1. (intransitive) To suffer pain.
    • (Can we date this quote?) 1900s, Kl. Knigge, Iceland Folk Song, traditional, Harmony: H. Ruland
      We’re leaving these shores for our time has come, the days of our youth must now end. The hearts bitter anguish, it burns for the home that we’ll never see again.
  2. (transitive) To cause to suffer pain.


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