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

He is known to instigate people – including his brother, the group said. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "From 30 feet away, Hartford mother watches son fatally stab his brother," 18 July 2019 He was arrested a short time later, however, when another caller reported the same man allegedly attempting to instigate a fight a few blocks away. oregonlive.com, "Woman attempts late-night fishing over open manhole with make-shift pole: Forest Grove police log," 17 July 2019 Its popularity seems to be instigating a shift in the coffee lexicon. Amy Drew Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, "Unreal Coffee: Starbucks is so popular it’s turning baristas into forensic detectives," 16 Aug. 2019 State media now runs news stories alleging that white foreigners attending the Hong Kong protests are actually CIA operatives instigating turmoil. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Trump Ties Hong Kong Protests to China Trade Deal in a Move That Could Backfire," 15 Aug. 2019 But if leadership acts, any postmortems will invariably point to action as an instigating factor, regardless of whether that actually proves to be the case. Elizabeth Spiers, The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi," 24 July 2019 The instigating troublemaker, human division, arrives when Mary Ellen’s fellow high school student, Daniela (Katie Sarife),shows up uninvited. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "‘Annabelle Comes Home’ review: Adventures in babysitting a devil doll," 25 June 2019 Between April and November of 1919, white people in cities and towns across the country instigated race riots, attacking and often killing their black neighbors. Madeline Fitzgerald, Time, "Ensuring the Chicago Race Riot Is Not Forgotten, With Inspiration from Germany's Holocaust Memorials," 27 July 2019 Besides, my own generation probably instigated this decline in the first place. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "Semantic Drift," 22 July 2019

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

2 Sep 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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