Definition of provocative in English:



  • 1Causing annoyance, anger, or another strong reaction, especially deliberately.

    ‘a provocative article’
    ‘his provocative remarks on race’
    • ‘Nambisan's on a roll; he also has a provocative article on the ethics of sting operations.’
    • ‘These essays provide a variety of interesting, provocative perspectives on science in Canada.’
    • ‘The FBU believe that the government is being deliberately provocative, and it is difficult not to share the view.’
    • ‘How is such a rewritten text disturbing, interesting, assaultive, provocative?’
    • ‘I feel fairly sure that your article was deliberately provocative.’
    • ‘We value good writing, as we value controversial and provocative ideas, for their own sake.’
    • ‘It is passionate yet considered, provocative yet clearly reasoned - and gave me much food for thought.’
    • ‘Two distinct reasons are offered for this deliberately provocative conclusion.’
    • ‘Let me change the subject away from race, to Leroi's provocative remarks about beauty and deformity.’
    • ‘In 1989 and 1990 there was a spate of provocative articles on the country's past.’
    • ‘The Passionate Eye airs provocative documentaries on leading social and political issues of the day.’
    • ‘To be deliberately provocative, I asked him to call this period the Toronto new wave.’
    • ‘On a wide range of issues he has penned important and provocative academic articles.’
    • ‘We don't know whether it is, but it is a highly controversial and provocative book.’
    • ‘During that time they managed to be thoughtful, provocative and, heavens above, interesting.’
    • ‘Leading on from this, the article turns provocative when it addresses English and the vexed matter of case.’
    • ‘Of course, politics could and should be made more accessible, interesting, provocative.’
    • ‘Stapleton's approach is an extreme one, and perhaps deliberately provocative.’
    • ‘British officials strongly advised against the move, warning that it could be seen as provocative or even insulting.’
    • ‘I was very pleased to be asked to comment on the engaging and provocative articles in this volume.’
    annoying, irritating, exasperating, infuriating, provoking, maddening, goading, vexing, galling
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Arousing sexual desire or interest, especially deliberately.
      • ‘Underneath his carping about provocative dress is a jealous and irrational partner.’
      • ‘In fact, cultures that frown upon eye contact as sexually provocative may have a point.’
      • ‘Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Hedy Lamarr were the provocative, sensual kind.’
      • ‘Glasgow is not the first place where the Ipswich band's deliberately provocative clothing has caused outrage.’
      • ‘The provocative swimwear became a symbol of a Coast offering sun, surf, warmth and excitement.’
      • ‘It is sexy and glamorous like a rose bouquet, and provocative and intense!’
      • ‘When I opened them a tall, brunette woman in a provocative green dress stood before me.’
      • ‘In the interwar period there was little more provocative in the arts than a woman in command, celebrating the eroticism of the body.’
      • ‘She's especially lucky in regards to the film's provocative treatment of sexuality.’
      • ‘The effect of provocative bra ads on billboards may well be just as arousing as that of Desmond's Celebrity Babes.’
      • ‘The fashion industry dresses them in sexually provocative clothing.’
      • ‘Anything deemed to be too sexy, provocative, or disrespectful would be denied.’
      sexy, sexually arousing, sexually exciting, alluring, seductive, tempting, suggestive, inviting, tantalizing, titillating
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French provocatif, -ive, from late Latin provocativus, from provocat- called forth, challenged from the verb provocare (see provoke).