Exacerbate vs. Exasperate: Making Things Worse or Just Annoying?

March 28, 2024
Exacerbate vs. Exasperate: Making Things Worse or Just Annoying?

Exacerbate vs. Exasperate: Making Things Worse or Just Annoying?

Understanding Exacerbate vs. Exasperate

Both “exacerbate” and “exasperate” are words that describe making a situation worse, but they have different meanings and usage. Let’s explore the difference between these two words.


History: The word “exacerbate” comes from the Latin word “exacerbo,” which means to sharpen or irritate.

How to use: To exacerbate means to make a problem or situation more severe or intense.

Trick to remember the difference: Remember the word “exacerbate” by thinking of it as “making a bad situation even worse.”

Examples of using “exacerbate”:

  1. The heatwave exacerbated the drought in the region.
  2. Her comments only served to exacerbate the tension in the room.
  3. Adding fuel to the fire will only exacerbate the situation.
  4. Lack of rainfall will exacerbate the existing water shortage.
  5. His aggressive behavior will exacerbate the conflict between the two groups.


History: The word “exasperate” has its roots in the Latin word “exasperare,” meaning to irritate or provoke.

How to use: To exasperate means to irritate or annoy greatly.

Trick to remember the difference: Think of “exasperate” as “exasperating someone by annoying them.”

Examples of using “exasperate”:

  1. Her constant nagging exasperated her brother.
  2. The never-ending traffic jam exasperated the commuters.
  3. Trying to assemble the furniture without instructions started to exasperate him.
  4. Being asked the same question repeatedly can exasperate anyone.
  5. The loud noise from the construction site exasperated the residents.


Remember, “exacerbate” is about making a bad situation worse, while “exasperate” is about annoying or irritating someone. Keeping this difference in mind can help you use these words correctly in your writing and conversations.