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

McGregor also was suspended from MMA competition for six months and fined $50,000 for his role in a brawl instigated by Nurmagomedov immediately after their bout last October. Greg Beacham, The Seattle Times, "Conor McGregor announces retirement on social media," 26 Mar. 2019 May’s delay on the Brexit deal vote created an opening for a Conservative rebellion that had been brewing for some weeks, instigated by hardline Brexiteers who loathe May’s deal and are agitating for a more decisive split from the EU. Jen Kirby, Vox, "British Prime Minister Theresa May survives no-confidence vote," 12 Dec. 2018 Efforts at negotiating a deal with the ELN had started under Mr. Duque’s predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, but have made little progress with the rebels and the government accusing each other of instigating violence. Kejal Vyas, WSJ, "Colombian Rebel Group Claims Responsibility for Police Bombing," 21 Jan. 2019 There's only one problem: Raj never bothers to ask about Anu's ex-boyfriend, the guy who instigated this whole misunderstanding in the first place. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "The Big Bang Theory Season 12, Episode 12 Recap: Penny and Leonard Have a Big Decision," 10 Jan. 2019 Frustrated by the new wave of conflicts, Ethiopia's leader has warned in recent weeks that those who are instigating the violence in different parts of the country should stop their actions or his government will be forced to take measures. Elias Meseret, Fox News, "Deadly ethnic-based attacks erupt near Ethiopia's capital," 16 Sep. 2018 The actions that created this tragedy were instigated by this physician and carried out by a small number of good people who made poor decisions. Kantele Franko, The Seattle Times, "Hospital: ‘Poor decisions’ by staff giving outsize pain meds," 23 Jan. 2019 After news broke of Cardi and Minaj's NYFW altercation, Cardi posted a statement on Instagram that claimed Minaj instigated the fight by saying hurtful things about her daughter, Kulture. D. Elizabeth, Glamour, "Cardi B Just Hit Back at People Saying Her Feud With Nicki Minaj Is Ending Her Career," 26 Sep. 2018 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

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

29 Apr 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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