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Exacerbate vs. Exasperate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Updated on November 13, 2023
"Exacerbate" means to worsen or intensify a situation, while "exasperate" means to irritate or frustrate someone deeply.

Key Differences

"Exacerbate" is used to describe a situation that is made worse or more severe. It typically refers to an increase in the intensity or seriousness of a problem. On the other hand, "exasperate" is used to express a feeling of intense irritation or frustration towards a person or situation.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
"Exacerbate" is commonly used in medical or technical contexts to describe the worsening of symptoms or conditions. In contrast, "exasperate" is often used in interpersonal or emotional contexts, describing a response to someone's actions or behavior.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
While "exacerbate" has a more neutral or clinical tone, often used in a factual manner, "exasperate" carries a more emotional connotation, implying a level of personal annoyance or frustration.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023
Both words are verbs, but "exacerbate" is often followed by an object that refers to the situation being worsened, such as 'symptoms' or 'problems'. "Exasperate," however, is typically used with a direct object referring to a person or group being irritated.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023
Synonyms for "exacerbate" include aggravate and worsen. For "exasperate," synonyms are irritate and annoy. Conversely, the antonyms for "exacerbate" would be alleviate or improve, and for "exasperate," it would be appease or calm.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

To make a bad situation worse
To irritate or frustrate deeply
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Typical Context

Medical, technical, problem escalation
Emotional, interpersonal, response to annoyance
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Tone and Connotation

Neutral, clinical
Emotional, personal
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Grammatical Usage

Followed by an object referring to the worsened state
Used with a direct object referring to a person
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Synonyms and Antonyms

Synonyms: aggravate, worsen; Antonyms: alleviate
Synonyms: irritate, annoy; Antonyms: appease, calm
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023
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Exacerbate and Exasperate Definitions

Exacerbate

To increase the severity or seriousness of a problem.
Pollution can exacerbate asthma symptoms.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Exasperate

To cause someone to feel extreme annoyance or impatience.
The slow internet connection exasperated him.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Exacerbate

To aggravate an already difficult or painful situation.
His angry comments only served to exacerbate the conflict.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Exasperate

To overwhelm with frustration or annoyance.
The complex instructions exasperated the students.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Exacerbate

To make an already bad situation even worse.
Ignoring the problem will only exacerbate it over time.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Exasperate

To provoke or incite anger or irritation in someone.
His dismissive attitude exasperated his supervisor.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Exacerbate

To intensify negative feelings or conditions.
Lack of sleep can exacerbate stress levels.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Exasperate

To irritate or frustrate someone intensely.
Her constant lateness would exasperate her colleagues.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Exacerbate

To escalate the negative aspects of a scenario.
The economic crisis was exacerbated by poor financial planning.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Exasperate

To drive someone into a state of irritation or anger.
The continuous noise exasperated the residents.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Exacerbate

To increase the severity, violence, or bitterness of; aggravate
A speech that exacerbated racial tensions.
A heavy rainfall that exacerbated the flood problems.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

To make very angry or impatient; annoy greatly.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exacerbate

(transitive) To make worse (a problem, bad situation, negative feeling, etc.); aggravate.
The proposed shutdown would exacerbate unemployment problems.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

To increase the gravity or intensity of
"a scene ... that exasperates his rose fever and makes him sneeze" (Samuel Beckett).
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exacerbate

To render more violent or bitter; to irritate; to exasperate; to imbitter, as passions or disease.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

To tax the patience of; irk, frustrate, vex, provoke, annoy; to make angry.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exacerbate

Make worse;
This drug aggravates the pain
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

(obsolete) exasperated; embittered.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exacerbate

Exasperate or irritate
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

Exasperated; imbittered.
Like swallows which the exasperate dying yearSets spinning.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

To irritate in a high degree; to provoke; to enrage; to excite or to inflame the anger of; as, to exasperate a person or his feelings.
To exsasperate them against the king of France.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

To make grievous, or more grievous or malignant; to aggravate; to imbitter; as, to exasperate enmity.
To exasperate the ways of death.
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

Exasperate or irritate
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

Make furious
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

Exasperate

Make worse;
This drug aggravates the pain
Sara Rehman
Feb 23, 2023

FAQs

Are "exasperate" and "exasperated" interchangeable?

No, "exasperate" is a verb, while "exasperated" is an adjective describing a state of being.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Can a person be "exacerbated"?

Not directly. It's situations or conditions that are exacerbated, not individuals.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Does "exasperate" have a positive connotation?

No, it implies deep irritation or frustration.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Is "exasperate" used in medical contexts?

Rarely, it's mostly used to describe feelings of frustration.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exacerbate" be used to describe feelings?

No, "exacerbate" typically describes situations, not emotions.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Are there any contexts where these words could be confused?

Unlikely, as they apply to different situations: one to worsening conditions, the other to irritation.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Is "exasperate" always negative?

Yes, it describes a negative emotional response.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Is "exacerbate" a common word in everyday language?

It's more common in formal or technical contexts.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exasperate" be used in a passive form?

Yes, e.g., "He was exasperated by the delays."
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exacerbate" and "exasperate" be synonyms?

No, they have different meanings and contexts.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Are there any other forms of "exacerbate"?

Yes, "exacerbation" is the noun form.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exacerbate" refer to improvement?

No, it exclusively means to make worse.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Does "exacerbate" have an opposite?

Yes, words like "alleviate" or "mitigate" are its opposites.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exasperate" be used humorously?

It can, often to exaggerate someone's frustration for comic effect.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exasperate" be used as a noun?

No, its noun form is "exasperation."
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Does "exacerbate" imply intent?

No, it describes an effect, regardless of intent.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exasperate" describe a group's feelings?

Yes, it can refer to the frustration of an individual or a group.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exasperate" be used in a positive context?

Generally, no, as it describes negative feelings.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Can "exasperate" mean to make worse?

No, it specifically refers to causing irritation or frustration.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

Is "exacerbate" used in casual conversation?

It's more formal and may not be common in casual speech.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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