provocateur

play
noun pro·vo·ca·teur \ prō-ˌvä-kə-ˈtər \

Definition of provocateur

2 :one who provokes
  • a political provocateur

provocateur was our Word of the Day on 01/26/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of provocateur in a Sentence

  1. a calculating, right-wing provocateur, she has made a career out of controversy for its own sake

Recent Examples of provocateur from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'provocateur.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

In "provocateur," a word borrowed directly from French, one sees the English verb "provoke." Both "provoke" and "provocateur" derive from Latin provocare, meaning "to call forth." Why do we say "provocateur" for one who incites another to action, instead of simply "provoker"? Perhaps it's because of "agent provocateur," a term of French origin that literally means "provoking agent." Both "agent provocateur" and the shortened "provocateur" can refer to someone (such as an undercover police officer or a political operative) whose job is to incite people to break the law so that they can be arrested, but only "provocateur" is used in English with the more general sense of "one who provokes."

First Known Use of provocateur

1919



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a strongly worded attack

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