in·​cite | \in-ˈsīt \
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 \ 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

Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande’s extreme PDA still incites excitement, and couples like Emily Blunt and John Krasinski remain on a pedestal. Kathryn Lindsay,, "Why Be Engaged When You Can Be An Ex?," 13 July 2018 Similarly, in 2016, Trump incited the crowd at a South Carolina rally by taunting MSNBC reporter Katy Tur. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "America misses a political civility it never had," 29 June 2018 These failures should incite anger and frustration with a government that seems more concerned with blame-shifting than taking care of migrant families seeking asylum in the U.S., which is their right. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Separating Children From Parents is Shocking And Inhumane — It Is Also An American Tradition," 22 June 2018 The news incited a firestorm of criticism from celebrities, politicians and religious leaders. Andrea Park, CBS News, "George and Amal Clooney donate $100,000 to aid migrant children, say they were inspired by their twins," 20 June 2018 The family walked into the courtroom after several minutes of briefing with the media, close to 8:45 a.m. The case has incited action and outcry from both local and national advocacy groups. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Family of man killed in Denny's altercation prepares for murder trial," 13 June 2018 Finally, Daytona has also incited what promises to be an epic feud between Pusha and Drake, reminiscent of the Canadian rapper’s beef with Mill in 2015., "Is Pusha-T's album worth the hype? We say yes," 31 May 2018 Harding, who finished as a runner-up along with NFL player Josh Norman, incited controversy throughout her appearance on the four-week-long show. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Adam Rippon Says "Dancing With the Stars" Castmate Tonya Harding Is Actually "Nice" and "Really Fun"," 23 May 2018 Indeed, the third and fourth programs in the five-part survey of Beethoven's symphonies and overtures were all but flawless, and managed decisively to incite, renew, and expand affection for the composer and his music. Zachary Lewis,, "Cleveland Orchestra keeps the flame burning as 'The Prometheus Project' continues (review)," 14 May 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.

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

Dictionary Entries near incite








Statistics for incite

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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



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

Keep scrolling for more

in·​cite | \in-ˈsīt \
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).


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!