: to cause to happen or begin : to goad or urge forward : provoke
Did You Know?
"Instigate" is often used as a synonym of "incite" (as in "hoodlums instigating violence"), but the two words differ slightly in their overall usage. "Incite" usually stresses an act of stirring something up that one did not necessarily initiate ("the court's decision incited riots"). "Instigate" implies responsibility for initiating or encouraging someone else's action and usually suggests dubious or underhanded intent ("he was charged with instigating a conspiracy"). Another similar word, "foment," implies causing something by means of persistent goading ("the leader's speeches fomented a rebellion"). Deriving from the past participle of the Latin verb "instigare," "instigate" first appeared in English in the mid-16th century, approximately 60 years after "incite" and about 70 years before "foment."
"The catcher instigated the collision by blocking home plate without the ball." - Ryne Sandberg, quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 8, 2014
"U.S. and European Union officials accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of instigating the insurgency against Kiev…."- Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, June 3, 2014
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