instigate

verb
in·​sti·​gate | \ ˈin(t)-stə-ˌgāt How to pronounce instigate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce instigation (audio) \ noun
instigative \ ˈin(t)-​stə-​ˌgā-​tiv How to pronounce instigative (audio) \ adjective
instigator \ ˈin(t)-​stə-​ˌgā-​tər How to pronounce instigator (audio) \ 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

After a number of attempts to instigate a takeover were ultimately unsuccessful, Bury were expelled from the EFL on 27 August, becoming the first club to be kicked out of the league system since 1992. SI.com, "EFL to Discuss Possibility of Reinstating Bury Into League Two for 2020/21," 3 Sep. 2019 There’s a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president. Los Angeles Times, "ESPN doesn’t want its people mixing sports and politics," 24 July 2019 There’s a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Dan Le Batard delivers impassioned rebuke of racist 'send her back' chant despite ESPN rules," 18 July 2019 Todd posted a lengthy statement to Instagram ahead of the indictment on Tuesday, blaming a former employee for instigating the impending legal fiasco. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, "Accusations of tax evasion, fraud and estranged children: What’s going on with the Chrisleys?," 15 Aug. 2019 Dallas forward Kristine Anigwe was suspended two games for instigating the initial altercation with Griner and taking an open-handed swing at her. Doug Feinberg, courant.com, "WNBA suspends Griner 3 games for fight, Taurasi for 1," 13 Aug. 2019 Anigwe was suspended for instigating the initial altercation and for taking an open-handed swing at Griner. Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral, "WNBA suspends Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner for 3 games, Diana Taurasi for 1," 11 Aug. 2019 Air travel can instigate a breakout for a few reasons. Deanna Pai, Condé Nast Traveler, "6 Spot Treatments to Save Your Skin from Breaking Out While Traveling," 5 Aug. 2019 The government has conducted a series of inquiries into these events but has issued blanket denials of abuses and has blamed Rohingya militants for instigating any violence. Nick Cumming-bruce, New York Times, "‘Have You No Shame?’ Myanmar Is Flogged for Violence Against Rohingya," 4 July 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

14 Oct 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 How to pronounce instigate (audio) \
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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