provoke

verb
pro·​voke | \ prə-ˈvōk How to pronounce provoke (audio) \
provoked; provoking

Definition of provoke

transitive verb

1a : to call forth (a feeling, an action, etc.) : evoke provoke laughter
b : to stir up purposely provoke a fight
c : to provide the needed stimulus for will provoke a lot of discussion
2a : to incite to anger
b archaic : to arouse to a feeling or action

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Other Words from provoke

provoker noun

Choose the Right Synonym for provoke

provoke, excite, stimulate, pique, quicken mean to arouse as if by pricking. provoke directs attention to the response called forth. my stories usually provoke laughter excite implies a stirring up or moving profoundly. news that excited anger and frustration stimulate suggests a rousing out of lethargy, quiescence, or indifference. stimulating conversation pique suggests stimulating by mild irritation or challenge. that remark piqued my interest quicken implies beneficially stimulating and making active or lively. the high salary quickened her desire to have the job

synonyms see in addition irritate

Examples of provoke in a Sentence

His remarks provoked both tears and laughter. He just says those things because he's trying to provoke you. The animal will not attack unless it is provoked.
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Recent Examples on the Web Given the sadness, skepticism and cynicism provoked by the previous six, that’s saying something. Jason Hoffman, Cincinnati.com, "Decade in review: The 10 biggest Cincinnati collegiate/pro sports stories from the 2010s," 27 Dec. 2019 The rupture was provoked by papal rulings that ancestor worship and Confucian rites were pagan idolatry. The Economist, "Chaguan Communism is not what worries the world about China’s Communist Party," 18 Dec. 2019 Musk’s lawyer told the jury the tweet was an insult provoked by Unsworth and did not rise to the level of defamation. BostonGlobe.com, "Unsworth’s attorney suggested to a federal jury Friday that it award $190 million in damages to a British cave explorer who is suing Elon Musk for allegedly branding him as a pedophile during a Twitter spat.," 7 Dec. 2019 Musk's lawyer told the jury the tweet was an insult provoked by Unsworth and did not rise to the level of defamation. CBS News, "Elon Musk "pedo guy" tweet did not defame Brit, jury rules," 6 Dec. 2019 Had the jury found that Hill was provoked by derogatory language, his range would have been reduced to two to 20 years in prison, punishment for a second-degree felony. Elizabeth Zavala, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio man gets 40 years for killing assistant coach in 2012," 14 Nov. 2019 Meanwhile the remaining windows of their old house reflected only the faces of chimpanzees, which visited regularly, glowering in, confused and provoked by the chimp images mirrored there, which seemed to be glowering out. David Quammen, National Geographic, "‘I am scared all the time’: Chimps and people are clashing in rural Uganda," 8 Nov. 2019 Perhaps provoked by the unexpected colors put forth by recent Gucci collections or just a surefire way to stand out on the red carpet, pink and red made a lasting statement that the Emmy awards haven’t seen in awhile. Melissa Magsaysay, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: The Unexpected Color Combination to Emerge on Red Carpet," 23 Sep. 2019 Those who provoke hostility must eat their own bitter fruit,’’ Zhu Fenglian was quoted as saying by the official China News Service. BostonGlobe.com, "Taiwan passes law targeting Chinese political interference - The Boston Globe," 1 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'provoke.' 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 provoke

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for provoke

Middle English, from Anglo-French *provoker, provocher, from Latin provocare, from pro- forth + vocare to call, from voc-, vox voice — more at pro-, voice

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Time Traveler for provoke

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for provoke

Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Provoke.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/provoke. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for provoke

provoke

verb
How to pronounce provoke (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of provoke

: to cause the occurrence of (a feeling or action) : to make (something) happen
: to cause (a person or animal) to become angry, violent, etc.

provoke

verb
pro·​voke | \ prə-ˈvōk How to pronounce provoke (audio) \
provoked; provoking

Kids Definition of provoke

1 : to cause to become angry Don't provoke your sister.
2 : to bring about The joke provoked a smile.
pro·​voke | \ prə-ˈvōk How to pronounce provoke (audio) \
provoked; provoking

Medical Definition of provoke

: to induce (a physical reaction) ipecac provokes vomiting

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pro·​voke | \ prə-ˈvōk How to pronounce provoke (audio) \
provoked; provoking

Legal Definition of provoke

1 : to incite to anger
2 : to provide the needed stimulus for

Other Words from provoke

provoker noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on provoke

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for provoke

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with provoke

Spanish Central: Translation of provoke

Nglish: Translation of provoke for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of provoke for Arabic Speakers

Comments on provoke

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