I had to do some investigation on this word a number of years ago when
I was doing some medical editing for a clinic in New Jersey. Patients
would come in complaining of this and I had to run down a correct
spelling. It is a bit of Italian-American slang for heartburn or
dyspepsia but it can also mean mental aggravation.
Agita: Heartburn, acid indigestion, an upset stomach or, by extension,
a general feeling of upset. The word is Italian-American slang derived
from the Italian "agitare" meaning "to agitate.
"Agita" (but I think more correctly "agida") is Italian-American slang,
so it may not make it into any traditional Italian dictionaries.
You'll find it in print occasionally, and in American TV and movies,
but I guess it's not in common enough usage in the U.S. to make it
into American English dictionaries. Found a bit of speculation from a
professor in the Department of Italian at NYU -- he thinks it may
derive from the Italian word "acidita," which means acidity -- as in
the stomach upset and heartburn you get from being stressed and
annoyed -- e.g., agida. Found an article about one of the stars of The
Sopranos who's working on a new movie about feuding pizza parlor
owners. The title: "Agida." ...
In Italy you will more likely hear "acidita'" - acidity."
I had been spelling it with a 't' taken from "agitate" rather than the
"d" in acidity until I found that conversation. The "agida" spelling
seems to be more correct. Neither spelling has found its way into
American English dictionaries but with the popularity of HBO's "The
Sopranos," it very well could.
"Some words of the Sopranos' jargon are by now acquired to American
English "agida" meaning restless, angry, "capo," the clan boss,
"cugine," a mafia apprentice, "goomba" and "gomah," meaning compare
and comare, that is Italian American men and women.
From the Word Detective:
"Agita" is not a standard Italian word, and linguists are not certain
where came from. One possible source is the Italian word "agitare"
("to agitate" or "to trouble"), which in turn came from the Latin
"agitare," which meant "to stir up." To be "agitato" in Italy is to be
very excited, and a musical score marked "agitato" is intended to be
played at a frenzied pace. But it's also possible that the source is
"acido" (pronounced "AH-chee-do"), Italian for "stomach acid," which
then possibly became "agita" ("AH-jih-ta") over time. Whatever the
source, "agita" seems to have arrived in New York with Italian
immigrants around the turn of the century, and has been in constant
use, especially in places like New York City, ever since.
From Google Smackdown:
And the undisputed champion is...
It may be up to the linguists on which particular spelling makes into
our Webster's. I hope this information is helpful in drawing your own
conclusion which spelling you prefer. In the meantime, can I interest
you in some chamomile or peppermint tea? ;-)
Thanks for the fun question today!