May 27, 2012
instigate (verb)
\IN-stuh-gayt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: incite, provoke
How do you use it?
She was annoyed at her brother for trying to instigate an argument between her and her friend.
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Our definition of "instigate" shows two of its synonyms, "incite" and "provoke." Can you find another in the list below?

"Instigate," "incite," "provoke," and "foment" all mean to make something happen. "Instigate" implies responsibility for causing someone to act in a certain way and often connotes evil intention, as in "instigating a fight." "Incite" stresses stirring something up or urging someone on, as in "trying to incite a riot." "Provoke" suggests causing a sudden reaction or feeling, as in "comments that provoked laughter." "Foment" implies persistence in encouraging someone to do something or causing an action, as in "conditions that fomented the revolution."
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