prov·​o·​ca·​tion | \ ˌprä-və-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce provocation (audio) \

Definition of provocation

1 : the act of provoking : incitement
2 : something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates

Examples of provocation in a Sentence

He can turn violent at the least provocation. Her calmness in the face of repeated provocations impressed her friends. With hardly any provocation, the crowd began to chant.
Recent Examples on the Web There are concerns that Kim Yo Jong’s threats last week over the leafletting portends a provocation, of which the possibilities may include a nuclear or missile test or even border skirmishes. Fox News, 19 Aug. 2022 There are concerns that the North Korean threat, issued last week by the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, portends a provocation, which may include a nuclear or major missile test or even border skirmishes., 16 Aug. 2022 His collections combine a uniquely French, haute couture sensibility with a distinctly global, youthful provocation. Ian Malone, Vogue, 13 May 2022 Where everyone else sees vandalism and possible depravity, Darnielle describes an earnest attempt at expression, provocation, and a kind of personal exorcism. Robert Rubsam, The New Republic, 24 Feb. 2022 The story of the Ukraine crisis so far has been about many things: blackmail; realpolitik; appeasement; even, apparently, Western provocation regardless of the facts. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 19 Feb. 2022 As educational institutions return to normal operations, a series of incidents around the country have also revived a familiar pattern of provocation, offense, and condemnation. Samuel Goldman, The Week, 27 Oct. 2021 The irrational response—and the likely one—is to view the FOBS test as a senseless, ahistorical provocation that demands some new technological countermeasure. David Axe, Forbes, 18 Oct. 2021 Trump’s order was ill-informed and, as a provocation, potentially dangerous, but ignoring the Commander-in-Chief amounts to a flagrant disregard for the Constitution. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of provocation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for provocation

Middle English provocacioun, from Anglo-French provocacion, from Latin provocation-, provocatio, from provocare

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The first known use of provocation was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

20 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Provocation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for provocation


prov·​o·​ca·​tion | \ ˌprä-və-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce provocation (audio) \

Kids Definition of provocation

: something that causes anger or action The dog will attack at the slightest provocation.


prov·​o·​ca·​tion | \ ˌpräv-ə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce provocation (audio) \

Medical Definition of provocation

: the act or process of provoking a nonspecific irritant that brings about provocation of bronchial asthma


prov·​o·​ca·​tion | \ ˌprä-və-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce provocation (audio) \

Legal Definition of provocation

1 : the act of provoking
2 : something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates

More from Merriam-Webster on provocation

Nglish: Translation of provocation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of provocation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about provocation


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