What Does Exasperated Mean? Understanding Exasperation

What does exasperated mean? Our expert guide discusses the meaning of this word, common times when people feel this emotion, and how to handle it.

Exasperated is an English word that means to feel frustrated or irritated. Depending on the sentence, it can be used as a verb or adjective. Emotions can profoundly impact your day-to-day life. When someone riles you into frustration, it can quickly destroy your day. In contrast, some excellent news delivered at the beginning of your day can make the rest of the day feel amazing.

Exasperated is one word English speakers sometimes use to describe a state of frustration related to their emotions. In American English grammar, this word can function as an adjective or a verb. When used as a verb, exasperate means to irritate, infuriate, aggravate, or frustrate. When it’s used as an adjective, exasperate means extremely irritated or annoyed, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition

Learning about the meaning of this word can also help you when writing and developing characters.

What Does Exasperated Mean?

Irritated mother suffer from misbehaving little kid bored disturb mom from work
A parent feels exasperated after hours and hours of children fighting

Exasperated is the past tense of the verb exasperate. This word typically refers to feeling frustrated after ongoing exposure to a certain triggering event. For example, a parent with young children in the home may feel exasperated after hours and hours of the children fighting. A worker in an office setting may feel exasperated when they cannot seem to get the HR team to understand their frustration with an angry coworker.

To better understand the word exasperated, consider these related words:

  • Irritated
  • Frustrated
  • Enraged
  • Embittered
  • Agitated
  • Annoyed
  • Disturbed

Common Situations that Lead to Exasperation

Exasperation can occur in many scenarios, but it often stems from relationships, especially with those people trust. You’re more likely to feel exasperated when family members, employers, religious leaders, or government officials do not meet your expectations. Here are some examples:

  • A teacher becomes exasperated when her students fail the retake test after she carefully retaught the material.
  • A worker is exasperated when the employer won’t require safe workplace protocols.
  • A coach gets exasperated when his players play hard and fair, but the refs cause the game to favor the opponent due to unfair calls.

Signs of Exasperation

Recognizing exasperation in yourself or others can help you take measures to diffuse difficult situations. Someone who’s exasperated may exhibit specific body language traits that indicate frustration. These may include:

  • Puffing out the cheeks when exhaling
  • Putting both hands on the cheeks or covering the mouth
  • Furrowing the eyebrows
  • Eye rolling
  • Pursing the lips
  • Tension in the body

Emotional signs include less ability to tolerate frustration, increased anger, and aggressive behavior. Sometimes, people experience depression and a loss of confidence rather than anger and aggressiveness. When someone’s exasperated, it’s more likely that they will snap at the people around them. They may get nervous twitches.

Someone who is exasperated may be unable to put together sentences in response to the person or conversation causing the emotion.

Effects of Exasperation

Everyone feels exasperated occasionally, but you may suffer negative side effects if you don’t practice healthy coping mechanisms throughout the day. The stress and frustration from being exasperated can negatively affect your mental and physical health. Mentally, people living in a state of exasperation are at higher risk for anxiety and depression. The ongoing exposure to stress hormones can play a role in this.

These adverse effects can impact relationships. Someone with a quick temper due to exasperation will struggle in their relationships. That same quick temper can get people into trouble at work, too. Professional relationships suffer when an individual is in a constant state of agitation and anxiety.

Aggression, which sometimes accompanies exasperation, can get people into trouble at work and in their personal lives.

Helpful Coping Strategies for Exasperation

1. Identify and Avoid Triggers

First, identify your triggers. Most people have something that triggers this emotion, and if you can identify your trigger, you can take steps to avoid it. If your trigger is something you can’t avoid, like the sound of a coworker’s conversations in the next office over, find ways to minimize your exposure to them, such as shutting your office door.

2. Learn Relaxation Techniques

There will be times when you can’t avoid triggers. Learning relaxation techniques can help you in those moments when you can’t prevent something that’s triggering exasperation. Here are some that work well:

  • Deep breathing: Regulated bringing gives your brain more oxygen, which can help some of your emotions calm. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven, then breathe out for eight.
  • Thoughtful muscle relaxation: Carefully, methodically relax each muscle group while sitting or lying down. Start with your toes and work your way through your head.
  • Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, a happy hormone that combats the stress hormones you get from exasperation.
  • Vent to a safe person: This isn’t a strategy to rely on all the time, but if you can vent your frustrations to a healthy, neutral party and limit yourself to no more than 15 minutes, it may help relieve some of your tension. Sometimes a professional therapist can provide that safe space.
  • Journal: Journaling allows you to release some of your emotions. Sometimes, the emotions feel less overwhelming when you see everything laid out on paper.

3. Communicate to Avoid Relationship Problems

Exasperation can have such a long-lasting effect on your relationships, so you must learn how to communicate with those you care about. If you have a particular pet peeve that often leads to exasperation, ask your friend or loved one if they could avoid that. Work through problems promptly before they grow into bigger issues. Do not allow small things to embitter you against someone until you’ve communicated your feelings.

How to Use Exasperated in a Sentence

To properly use a word in English, you must first understand its etymology. Exasperate comes from the Latin word exasperates, which is the past participle of exasperate. In Latin, exasperate means to “make rough, roughen, irritate, provoke.” We get the modern English word exasperate from those roots, and the past tense form is exasperated.

Be careful that you don’t confuse exasperated with exacerbated. Exacerbate means to make more violent, bitter, or severe. Exasperate means to irritate and provoke. Both come from the Latin word “Acer” and thus are easily confused.

They have slightly different nuances, so be careful when using them.

Example Sentences Using Exasperated as a Verb

Exasperated is the transitive verb, which means it requires a direct object. Here are some examples:

  • The unabridged version of the book exasperated the unskilled reader.
  • The siblings both loved and exasperated each other.
  • The high wind exasperated their difficulty hearing each other while on their walk.

Example Sentences Using Exasperated as an Adjective

As an adjective, exasperated can either directly modify the noun or work as a predicate adjective. Here are some examples:

  • She let out an exasperated sigh to indicate her frustration at the silly children.
  • The students were exasperated at the confusing instructions from their teacher.

A Final Word on What Exasperation Means

Upset woman talks with mental health professional
A skilled therapist can help embrace a more positive outlook

Exasperation happens to everyone when the right set of triggers is in place. This feeling of frustration, if not correctly dealt with, can lead to mental health concerns and problems in your relationships. Understanding exasperation is important in protecting your mental health. Remember, it’s essential to recognize and understand our emotions, including exasperation, to lead a healthy and fulfilling life.

By implementing coping strategies, you can effectively manage your exasperation and improve your overall well-being. If you find yourself struggling to overcome regular feelings of exasperation, consider seeking professional help. A skilled therapist can help you embrace a more positive outlook and thoroughly utilize those relaxation techniques.

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