in·cite | \in-ˈsīt \
incited; inciting

Definition of incite 

transitive verb

: to move to action : stir up : spur on : urge on

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Other Words from incite

incitant \in-ˈsī-tᵊnt \ noun
incitement \in-ˈsīt-mənt \ noun
inciter noun

Choose the Right Synonym for incite

incite, instigate, abet, foment mean to spur to action. incite stresses a stirring up and urging on, and may or may not imply initiating. inciting a riot instigate definitely implies responsibility for initiating another's action and often connotes underhandedness or evil intention. instigated a conspiracy abet implies both assisting and encouraging. aiding and abetting the enemy foment implies persistence in goading. fomenting rebellion

Examples of incite in a Sentence

The news incited widespread fear and paranoia. the rock band's failure to show up incited a riot, as the crowd had waited for hours

Recent Examples on the Web

American colonists in the 18th century did indeed resent tariffs imposed by the British government on goods imported into the colonies, and their anger over taxes and tariffs incited a rebellion. WSJ, "Tariffs Helped the U.S. Economy Find Its Legs," 13 July 2018 The president has repeatedly sought to inflame rhetoric and incite animosity toward the press. David Zurawik,, "Hannity outrageously points finger at Waters, Obama for rhetoric that fed Annapolis Capital Gazette shooting," 29 June 2018 Trump has done a fantastic job inciting his base with this white nationalism rhetoric while hiding his truest mission: taking care of the Trump family and the Trump brand. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Congratulations, NFL, You Played Yourself! Protest Fines Didn’t Appease Trump, Who Wants Players Who Don’t Stand for the Anthem Tossed Out of the Country," 24 May 2018 The unifying thread through all of this is the nonstop assault on objective truth with a specific political intent, which is to incite fervor among his supporters into a very difficult midterm election. Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ, "Trump Seeks to Discredit Russia Probe, Using Report as Brickbat," 15 June 2018 The owners protect their brand, which was under attack from critics incited by Trump. Josh Peter, USA TODAY, "Team Trump wins in anthem dispute, prods NFL owners to do right thing," 23 May 2018 Most of the discussions in these communities revolve around routine parenting questions, the kind that can incite small flame wars but are ultimately just a matter of preference. Renee Diresta, WIRED, "The Complexity of Simply Searching for Medical Advice," 3 July 2018 No more inequality that incites violence, and no more silence. Patrick Crowley, Billboard, "FLETCHER Shares #MeToo-Inspired Track 'I Believe You' With Poignant Open Letter: 'I'm Listening, We All Are'," 9 Mar. 2018 Spurning their mothers’ instructions, Willa’s son Dylan and the wild child Gren become friends, inadvertently inciting a bloody confrontation during a Christmas party. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Depraved and Beautiful Dream of the World," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incite.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of incite

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incite

Middle French inciter, from Latin incitare, from in- + citare to put in motion — more at cite

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Statistics for incite

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incite

The first known use of incite was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for incite



English Language Learners Definition of incite

: to cause (someone) to act in an angry, harmful, or violent way

: to cause (an angry, harmful, or violent action or feeling)


in·cite | \in-ˈsīt \
incited; inciting

Kids Definition of incite

: to stir up usually harmful or violent action or feeling The news incited panic.

in·cite | \in-ˈsīt \
incited; inciting

Medical Definition of incite 

: to bring into being : induce to exist or occur organisms that readily incited antibody formation

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in·cite | \in-ˈsīt \
incited; inciting

Legal Definition of incite 

: to urge on incite a riot

Other Words from incite

incitement noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on incite

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for incite

Spanish Central: Translation of incite

Nglish: Translation of incite for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incite for Arabic Speakers

Comments on incite

What made you want to look up incite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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