provocative

adjective

pro·​voc·​a·​tive prə-ˈvä-kə-tiv How to pronounce provocative (audio)
: serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate
a provocative question
provocative noun
provocatively adverb
provocativeness noun

Example Sentences

a thoughtful and provocative book It was one of his more provocative suggestions. She was wearing a very provocative outfit.
Recent Examples on the Web Worst of all was the careless spouting of increasingly provocative and unsubstantiated views. Eugene Rabkin, New York Times, 7 Jan. 2023 Palestinians consider the mosque a national symbol and view such visits as provocative and as a potential precursor to Israel seizing control over the compound. Ilan Ben Zion, ajc, 3 Jan. 2023 The explosion and subsequent fire panicked and confused residents of the coastal city of Gangneung, who were already uneasy over the increasingly provocative weapons tests by rival North Korea. Kim Tong-hyung, USA TODAY, 5 Oct. 2022 The explosion and subsequent fire panicked and confused residents of the coastal city of Gangneung, who were already uneasy over the increasingly provocative weapons tests by rival North Korea. Kim Tong-hyung, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Oct. 2022 This comes as Kim has made increasingly provocative threats of nuclear conflict toward the US and its allies in Asia in recent months. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 9 Sep. 2022 Kim has made increasingly provocative threats of nuclear conflict toward the United States and its allies in Asia, also warning that the North would proactively use its nuclear weapons when threatened. Kim Tong-hyung, Chicago Tribune, 9 Sep. 2022 The report comes as talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have stalled in Vienna and the Iranian regime has been resorting to increasingly provocative tactics. Adam Shaw, Fox News, 9 June 2022 Mounting concern over a new Cold War with Russia and an increasingly provocative North Korea. ABC News, 22 May 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of provocative was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near provocative

Cite this Entry

“Provocative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/provocative. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

provocative

adjective
pro·​voc·​a·​tive prə-ˈväk-ət-iv How to pronounce provocative (audio)
: serving or tending to provoke
provocative comments
provocatively adverb
provocativeness noun

Medical Definition

provocative

adjective
pro·​voc·​a·​tive prə-ˈväk-ət-iv How to pronounce provocative (audio)
: serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate
provocative test for coronary spasmJournal of the American Medical Association

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