One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person who or thing which provokes; a challenger, instigator, inciter, irritator; (in later use) specifically = "provocateur".
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in David Lindsay (c1486–1555), writer and herald. Partly from Middle French provocateur provocateur and its etymon classical Latin prōvocātor person who challenges, challenger, person who exercises a right of appeal (from prōvocāt-, past participial stem of prōvocāre + -or), and partly from provocate + -or.
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