in·​cite | \ in-ˈsīt How to pronounce incite (audio) \
incited; inciting

Definition of incite

transitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from incite

incitant \ in-​ˈsī-​tᵊnt How to pronounce incitant (audio) \ noun
incitement \ in-​ˈsīt-​mənt How to pronounce incitement (audio) \ 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 His mate has multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews, amongst other crimes and accusations., "8 of the Most Controversial Celebrations in Football History," 12 Sep. 2019 Officers are investigating the incident as a hate crime, since the vandals targeted a religious institution and it can be argued those responsible were trying to incite fear in congregants. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Vandalism at Chula Vista church being investigated as a hate crime," 8 Sep. 2019 Separately, another man was convicted of inciting hatred and threatening violence and sentenced to five years in prison for a tweet threatening the children of riot policemen who beat up the protesters. Washington Post, "Jailed Russian protester speaks after surprise release," 4 Sep. 2019 As a result, the platforms have been weaponized and used to incite violence. Kristina Libby, Popular Mechanics, "Why Tech Will Never Be Able to Predict the Next Mass Shooting," 6 Aug. 2019 Recent cases involved mainly perpetrators who wanted to bring attention to themselves, pose as victims, and incite ideological hatred. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Are Hate-Crime Laws Helping?," 22 Feb. 2019 That has left a far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, a former Army captain accused of inciting racial hatred, as the candidate with the most support in polls. Shasta Darlington, New York Times, "Fed Up With Corruption, Fresh Faces Take On Brazil’s Political Old Guard," 2 June 2018 This distortion was exacerbated by a common practice incited by the erroneous belief that women spoke more softly than men: engineers automatically turned up the volume knob when a woman took her place behind the mic. Tina Tallon, The New Yorker, "A Century of “Shrill”: How Bias in Technology Has Hurt Women’s Voices," 3 Sep. 2019 Trump was slapped with a lawsuit alleging that his comments incited the assault, but an appeals court dismissed that part of the suit. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "President Donald Trump is visiting Louisville. Here's what you need to know," 20 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about incite

Statistics for incite

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for incite

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for incite


How to pronounce incite (audio)

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 How to pronounce incite (audio) \
incited; inciting

Kids Definition of incite

: to stir up usually harmful or violent action or feeling The news incited panic.
in·​cite | \ in-ˈsīt How to pronounce incite (audio) \
incited; inciting

Medical Definition of incite

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

Keep scrolling for more

in·​cite | \ in-ˈsīt How to pronounce incite (audio) \
incited; inciting

Legal Definition of incite

: to urge on incite a riot

Other Words from incite

incitement noun

Keep scrolling for more

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 calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!