provocateur was our Word of the Day on 01/26/2013. Hear the podcast!
Examples of provocateur in a sentence
a calculating, right-wing provocateur, she has made a career out of controversy for its own sake
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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up provocateur? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).