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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The White House has attempted to discourage the trip for fear that her trip to the island — which would be the first by a U.S. House speaker in 25 years — could provoke China and spark a crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Christian Shepherd, Washington Post, 31 July 2022 For Simon Whitehouse, founder of EBIT, fashion is a creative outlet to provoke dialogue and empathy around mental health, including neurodivergence. Olivia Pinnock, Forbes, 15 July 2022 Theaters reopened, long-running shows returned, and an unusually diverse array of plays and musicals arrived to entertain, provoke and inspire theatergoers. New York Times, 13 June 2022 It’s an erasure that resonates with a filmmaker whose willingness to provoke and tackle the taboo was the likely cause of his legal troubles with the Russian state. Christopher Vourlias, Variety, 18 May 2022 Left-leaning party members of his party continue to argue that delivering tanks and other heavy weapons will only further provoke Russia and prompt it to expand its military operations again. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 1 May 2022 It was choreographed to provoke a reciprocal response and support his narrative. Douglas London, CNN, 4 Mar. 2022 Too little can lead to a bonk and even nausea if your blood sugar gets too low, while too much foodstuff can also provoke the gut and induce queasiness. Patrick Wilson, Outside Online, 15 June 2020 Numbers did not initially provoke wonder or reverence. Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker, 8 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Provoke.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for provoke


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.


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

Medical Definition of provoke

: to induce (a physical reaction) ipecac provokes vomiting


transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on provoke

Nglish: Translation of provoke for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of provoke for Arabic Speakers


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