Synonyms & Antonyms of instigate

1 to bring (something volatile or intense) into being
  • the medical breakthrough instigated a whole new field of therapy

Synonyms for instigate

Words Related to instigate

Phrases Synonymous with instigate

Near Antonyms for instigate

2 to rouse to strong feeling or action
  • the charge that the scene in the movie had instigated teenagers to commit similar acts of vandalism

Synonyms for instigate

Words Related to instigate

Phrases Synonymous with instigate

Near Antonyms for instigate

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Frequently Asked Questions About instigate

How does the verb instigate contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of instigate are abet, foment, and incite. While all these words mean "to spur to action," instigate definitely implies responsibility for initiating another's action and often connotes underhandedness or evil intention.

instigated a conspiracy

In what contexts can abet take the place of instigate?

In some situations, the words abet and instigate are roughly equivalent. However, abet implies both assisting and encouraging.

aiding and abetting the enemy

When is it sensible to use foment instead of instigate?

Although the words foment and instigate have much in common, foment implies persistence in goading.

fomenting rebellion

When would incite be a good substitute for instigate?

The meanings of incite and instigate largely overlap; however, incite stresses a stirring up and urging on, and may or may not imply initiating.

inciting a riot

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Time Traveler for instigate

Time Traveler

The first known use of instigate was in 1542

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Thesaurus Entries Near instigate




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Cite this Entry

“Instigate.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on instigate

Nglish: Translation of instigate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of instigate for Arabic Speakers


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