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

Allegedly instigating a fight that led to her being shot in the stomach and losing her pregnancy. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al.com, "Marshae Jones: What they’re saying about Alabama woman arrested after shooting death of unborn child," 27 June 2019 The organization uses its funds to provide preventative services, instigate policy changes, and of course, offer treatment to those suffering from the disease. Mikayla Grossman, PEOPLE.com, "Elton John Teams with New Jewelry Brand on Rainbow-Colored Bracelets to Support LGBTQ+ Community," 26 June 2019 Essentially, Eva instigated a scramble to create original Japanese series that did what Eva did. Allegra Frank, Vox, "8 things to know about Neon Genesis Evangelion, the legendary anime now streaming on Netflix," 21 June 2019 China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, has repeatedly characterized the protests as foreign-instigated, a message that is echoed in Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly newspapers (link in Chinese) and propagated by nationalistic Chinese tabloid Global Times. Jane Li, Quartz, "A state-run Chinese newspaper is presenting alternative facts on Hong Kong’s protests," 17 June 2019 Neither Vitela nor Higgins explained what instigated the shooting, according to court records. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Police: 3 arrested in Phoenix drive-by shooting," 4 June 2019 This reckoning was instigated by a research paper written by Alice Wu, published in August 2017, just two months before the New York Times published the first wave of allegations against Harvey Weinstein and kicked off the #MeToo movement. Eshe Nelson, Quartz, "Economics needs to do more than attract women to solve its gender problem," 11 June 2019 Russia has also reportedly instigated a campaign of drone sabotage against Ukrainian military bases, particularly ammunition dumps, in one case causing a billion dollars’ worth of damage. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Seizes Three Ukrainian Warships in Border Incident," 26 Nov. 2018 In this instance, Trump’s couch-potato management style instigated a rare positive course correction. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Genesis of Trump’s Family-Separation Policy," 22 June 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

8 Jul 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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