Definition of instigate in English:



  • 1 Bring about or initiate (an action or event)

    ‘they instigated a reign of terror’
    ‘instigating legal proceedings’
    • ‘The possession of a maritime culture may have enabled these islands to instigate change more easily than communities on the mainland.’
    • ‘After all, the goal is to address issues, instigate debate and implement change.’
    • ‘The man that they were talking about had instigated a riot in one of our major cities last summer.’
    • ‘Share prices even might fall, but at least then investors could be confident that they really were using their money to instigate change.’
    • ‘Until we use what rights we do have to instigate change, get used to being laughed off.’
    • ‘Seven other detainees were stripped and built into a ‘human pyramid’ after being suspected of instigating a riot.’
    • ‘Rather than ban the ‘sinners’ they attempt to work with them by investing in them and trying to instigate change.’
    • ‘In fact, one of the biggest mandates I have for my managers is to instigate change.’
    • ‘But frequent riots instigated by the fascist forces often negated the good work.’
    • ‘Here the audience obtains a glimpse of the power bloc which oversaw and instigated the events.’
    • ‘Much less should they instigate riots to threaten the people.’
    • ‘Police suspect that both incidents were instigated by juveniles who attend parties.’
    • ‘Police accused the rink's management of instigating the incident by playing music over the rink's PA system.’
    • ‘Legal proceedings have been instigated and we will be seeking the earliest possible court date.’
    • ‘Over the years she has instigated various events in the Court and the town itself.’
    • ‘He abandoned his work as a doctor and pursued his desire to instigate change using the Leeds Times as a platform for his views.’
    • ‘Often the utility companies dispute that they have taken too long and instigate legal action.’
    • ‘Does the development team have the power and flexibility to instigate catastrophic events in the game?’
    • ‘This in turn instigated a slight blackout in our collective fashion senses, meaning that paisley will be back for a short while.’
    • ‘She catalogues the experience of the Welsh housewife and the changes instigated by the introduction of electricity.’
    set in motion, put in motion, get under way, get going, get off the ground, get in operation, start, begin, initiate, launch, institute, lay the foundations of, lay the first stone of, sow the seeds of, set up, inaugurate, found, establish, put in place, organize, get working, get functioning, activate
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    1. 1.1Incite someone to do something, especially something bad.
      ‘instigating men to refuse allegiance to the civil powers’
      • ‘When first interrogated, he claimed that ‘it was the evil spirit who made me believe such things, and he also instigated me to say them to others’.’
      • ‘The Knight of Swords' instigates you to be active, skillful and clever in work situations today.’
      • ‘He instigated him to fight a war.’
      • ‘‘The Hanged Man’ instigates you to make changes in routines and patterns that have become meaningless and cumbersome in your life.’
      • ‘All the treks have their own bewitching features that instigate you to move ahead while knowing them.’
      • ‘This causes him to fear that she will disappear, leaving him with nothing, which in turn instigates him to provoke their break-up so that he can walk out on her before he is abandoned.’
      • ‘It instigated me to do this - in our democracy everyone should be given a chance to speak and you cannot curb anyone's voice.’
      • ‘It is believed that the people were disappointed with the compensation given to them for their expropriated land, thus instigating them to commit arson.’
      • ‘The shock instigated me to stagger back.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense urge on): from Latin instigat- urged, incited from the verb instigare, from in- toward + stigare prick, incite.