provoke

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
2
a
: to incite to anger
b
archaic : to arouse to a feeling or action
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.
Recent Examples on the Web Some fear the party’s confrontational stance toward China could provoke an attack, while its supporters argue that close collaboration with Beijing could cede too much power to the Communist Party. Stephanie Yang, Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2024 Those at the party also testified that Earls kept slapping Cuellar on the butt and shoulder, trying to provoke him. Sally Krutzig, Idaho Statesman, 23 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for provoke 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'provoke.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near provoke

Cite this Entry

“Provoke.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/provoke. Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

provoke

verb
pro·​voke prə-ˈvōk How to pronounce provoke (audio)
provoked; provoking
1
: to excite to anger
2
: to stir up : bring about
provoke an argument
Etymology

Middle English provoken "to arouse to strong feeling or action," from early French provoquer (same meaning), from Latin provocare "to call forth, stir up," from pro- "forth, forward" and vocare "to call" — related to advocate, revoke, vocation

Medical Definition

provoke

transitive verb
pro·​voke prə-ˈvōk How to pronounce provoke (audio)
provoked; provoking
: to induce (a physical reaction)
ipecac provokes vomiting

Legal Definition

provoke

transitive verb
pro·​voke prə-ˈvōk How to pronounce provoke (audio)
provoked; provoking
1
: to incite to anger
2
: to provide the needed stimulus for
provoker noun

More from Merriam-Webster on provoke

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