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verb pro·voke \prə-ˈvōk\

Simple Definition of provoke

  • : to cause the occurrence of (a feeling or action) : to make (something) happen

  • : to cause (a person or animal) to become angry, violent, etc.

Full Definition of provoke


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a archaic :  to arouse to a feeling or action b :  to incite to anger

  3. 2 a :  to call forth (as a feeling or action) :  evoke <provoke laughter> b :  to stir up purposely <provoke a fight> c :  to provide the needed stimulus for <will provoke a lot of discussion>

pro·vok·er noun

Examples of provoke

  1. His remarks provoked both tears and laughter.

  2. He just says those things because he's trying to provoke you.

  3. The animal will not attack unless it is provoked.

Origin of provoke

Middle English, from Anglo-French *provoker, provocher, from Latin provocare, from pro- forth + vocare to call, from voc-, vox voice — more at pro-, voice

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of provoke

provoke, excite, stimulate, pique, quicken mean to arouse as if by pricking. provoke directs attention to the response called forth <my stories usually provoke laughter>. excite implies a stirring up or moving profoundly <news that excited anger and frustration>. stimulate suggests a rousing out of lethargy, quiescence, or indifference <stimulating conversation>. pique suggests stimulating by mild irritation or challenge <that remark piqued my interest>. quicken implies beneficially stimulating and making active or lively <the high salary quickened her desire to have the job>.

synonyms see in addition irritate

PROVOKE Defined for Kids


verb pro·voke \prə-ˈvōk\

Definition of provoke


  1. 1 :  to cause to become angry <Don't provoke your sister.>

  2. 2 :  to bring about <The joke provoked a smile.>

Word Root of provoke

The Latin word vox, meaning “voice,” and the related word vocāre, meaning “to call”, give us the root voc or vok. Words from the Latin vox or vocāre have something to do with the voice or with calling. Anything vocal is produced by the voice. A vocation is the work that someone is called to do as a job. To evoke is to call forth. To invoke is to call on for aid or protection. To provoke is to call forth another's anger. The word voice also has vox as its root.

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb pro·voke \prə-ˈvōk\

Medical Definition of provoke


  1. :  to induce (a physical reaction) <ipecac provokes vomiting>

Seen and Heard

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February 11, 2016

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