pro·​voc·​a·​tive | \ prə-ˈvä-kə-tiv How to pronounce provocative (audio) \

Definition of provocative

: serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate a provocative question

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Other Words from provocative

provocative noun
provocatively adverb
provocativeness noun

Examples of provocative in a Sentence

a thoughtful and provocative book It was one of his more provocative suggestions. She was wearing a very provocative outfit.
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Recent Examples on the Web His stance might be provocative if Marvel were a niche interest, a fresh lens through which to view culture or society. Noah Berlatsky, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2021 The White House called the flights risky and destabilizing, while China responded that the U.S. selling weapons to Taiwan and its ships navigating the Taiwan Strait were provocative., 6 Oct. 2021 Far beyond an examination of Lee’s provocative, often controversial projects, the gallery is an eye-filling, emotional journey into the mind of an artist, one that spans decades — reaching back before the days when Lee first picked up a film camera. Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2021 Variations of Koch’s provocative question about consciousness have, of course, dogged philosophers for millennia. Scientific American, 21 Sep. 2021 In January and last October, North Korea rolled out its most provocative strategic weapons, threatening Asian rivals and the American homeland, but there was no indication the latest parade showcased ballistic weapons. Arkansas Online, 10 Sep. 2021 To say the 8-episode second installment of the series is provocative is an understatement. Veronica Villafañe, Forbes, 16 Sep. 2021 Use of Taiwan's name is provocative to China because it could be read as implying that Taiwan is an independent country. Arkansas Online, 3 Sep. 2021 Elder’s views on other issues, like climate change, have been equally provocative. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 10 Aug. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of provocative

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for provocative

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

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Provocative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for provocative



English Language Learners Definition of provocative

: causing discussion, thought, argument, etc.
: causing sexual feelings or excitement : sexy


pro·​voc·​a·​tive | \ prə-ˈvä-kə-tiv How to pronounce provocative (audio) \

Kids Definition of provocative

: serving or likely to cause a reaction (as interest, curiosity, or anger) a provocative statement

Other Words from provocative

provocatively adverb


pro·​voc·​a·​tive | \ prə-ˈväk-ət-iv How to pronounce provocative (audio) \

Medical Definition of provocative

: serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate provocative test for coronary spasmJournal of the American Medical Association

More from Merriam-Webster on provocative

Nglish: Translation of provocative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of provocative for Arabic Speakers


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