Irritate or aggravate?
Very frequently used as though they are interchangeable, these two words do have different meanings. Though it’s true that ‘irritate’ can also mean ‘aggravate’, aggravate cannot generally mean ‘irritate’ in proper usage.
Irritate: verb - excite, rouse or provoke a person; aggravate, excite or provoke an action or emotion; excite to impatience or anger, annoy, exasperate; in medicine, to excite an organ to abnormal action or condition; produce an unpleasant sensation or inflammation; in biology, to produce a response in an organ by some form of stimulus.
Aggravate: verb - load someone or something with; bring as a charge against; strengthen, increase, or magnify; colloquial only - exasperate or annoy someone.
‘Caffeine can irritate the bladder in certain people, causing them to urinate more frequently.’
‘Brian would frequently irritate Margaret with his obsessive checking whether he had locked the doors before leaving the house.’
‘The political extremists brought in Rent-a-Mob to aggravate the situation on the protest, creating violence where there had previously been a peaceful protest.’
‘Charlie would often aggravate Donna’s insecurity by declaring she was fat and lazy.’
Pic: The rocky coast near Sissi, Crete.