instigate

verb
in·​sti·​gate | \ ˈin(t)-stə-ˌgāt \
instigated; instigating

Definition of instigate

transitive verb

: to goad or urge forward : provoke

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Other Words from instigate

instigation \ ˌin(t)-​stə-​ˈgā-​shən \ noun
instigative \ ˈin(t)-​stə-​ˌgā-​tiv \ adjective
instigator \ ˈin(t)-​stə-​ˌgā-​tər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for instigate

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

Did You Know?

Instigate is often used as a synonym of incite (as in "hoodlums instigating violence"), but the two words differ slightly in their overall usage. Incite usually stresses an act of stirring something up that one did not necessarily initiate ("the court's decision incited riots"). Instigate implies responsibility for initiating or encouraging someone else's action and usually suggests dubious or underhanded intent ("he was charged with instigating a conspiracy"). Another similar word, foment, implies causing something by means of persistent goading ("the leader's speeches fomented a rebellion"). Deriving from the past participle of the Latin verb instigare, instigate first appeared in English in the mid-16th century, approximately 60 years after incite and about 70 years before foment.

Examples of instigate in a Sentence

There has been an increase in the amount of violence instigated by gangs. The government has instigated an investigation into the cause of the accident.

Recent Examples on the Web

Another source of frustration is that Aye Maung, a prominent Rakhine political leader, has been charged with treason for allegedly instigating a pro-autonomy protest last year. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Feuding Monks Expose Bitter Ethnic Buddhist Divisions in Myanmar," 9 Feb. 2019 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, without evidence, blames Gülen for instigating a July 2016 coup attempt and has called for his immediate return to Turkey to stand trial. Alex Ward, Vox, "Turkey releases US Pastor Andrew Brunson in a big win for Trump," 12 Oct. 2018 Gnanasara is the leader of a Buddhist group blamed for instigating attacks on Muslims. Washington Post, "Hard-line Buddhist monk jailed for 6 months in Sri Lanka," 14 June 2018 Luong had also participated in and instigated others to join protests against environmental pollution by a steel complex owned by Taiwan's Formosa Plastic Group in several central provinces in 2016. Fox News, "Vietnam finds activist guilty of anti-government charges," 16 Aug. 2018 On May 30, 1921, thousands of white Tulsans instigated a race riot, brutally attacking the town’s African-American community—machine guns and even airplanes dropping turpentine conspired to destroy Greenwood. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "10 Streets that Changed America," 5 July 2018 That close, and somewhat shocking, vote instigated the current political chaos in Britain, as a bitterly divided country grapples with exactly how to break up with the EU ahead of the March 29, 2019, deadline. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The case for holding a second Brexit referendum," 17 Dec. 2018 Further, if Ukraine instigated the event as Russia claims, then why did Russia send low-flying attack jets and helicopters into the area? Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Seizes Three Ukrainian Warships in Border Incident," 26 Nov. 2018 And while Sheldon instigated all of this, Siebert should have done his due diligence before signing off on such a major development. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "The Big Bang Theory," 18 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instigate.' 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 instigate

1542, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for instigate

Latin instigatus, past participle of instigare — more at stick

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Dictionary Entries near instigate

insteep

instellation

instep

instigate

instigatingly

instil

instill

Statistics for instigate

Last Updated

18 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instigate

The first known use of instigate was in 1542

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More Definitions for instigate

instigate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of instigate

: to cause (something) to happen or begin

instigate

verb
in·​sti·​gate | \ ˈin-stə-ˌgāt \
instigated; instigating

Kids Definition of instigate

: to cause to happen or begin He instigated the fight.

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Comments on instigate

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excited commotion or publicity

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