Definition of provoke in US English:

provoke

verb

[with object]
  • 1Stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone.

    ‘the decision provoked a storm of protest from civil rights organizations’
    • ‘Cromwell's name resonates down the centuries and provokes strong reactions to this day.’
    • ‘In fact the commission's analysis of the state of British convergence with the eurozone was very mild, extremely careful and deliberately designed to avoid provoking a bust-up.’
    • ‘From a design point of view, something about their absolutely neutral formal character provokes strong reactions.’
    • ‘The resignation that followed and the outrage provoked by the decision prompted an irrevocable split within the committee.’
    • ‘After all, a strong leader provokes a strong reaction.’
    • ‘The exhibit by internationally-renowned artist Jannis Kounellis has succeeded in provoking strong reactions’
    • ‘The Sri Lankan army, which has inflicted widespread damage and constantly harasses local residents, recently killed several local youth, provoking angry protests.’
    • ‘The variability of the margin of appreciation has sometimes provoked strong reactions from judges frustrated by its imprecision.’
    • ‘It is also counterproductive. Exerting pressure arouses mistrust and provokes fresh attacks from the Church's critics.’
    • ‘Pipes' presence on campus is provoking strong feelings among students and faculty on both sides of the issue.’
    • ‘Further, eyewitnesses suggest that the police are deliberately provoking violence.’
    • ‘Genetic manipulation of food products provokes strong emotions whenever it is discussed.’
    • ‘They wanted to see if they could provoke a strong reaction from me.’
    • ‘The implementation of very strong environmental protection legislation in the USA provoked a strong backlash.’
    • ‘Having provoked a strong reaction from most students at the college, a number of the posters have been taken down.’
    • ‘In his debut novel he sets out to provoke strong reactions and, given his subject matter, doubtless he will succeed.’
    • ‘Their request to do so was rejected, a rejection which provoked a strong reaction.’
    • ‘It's unfair to suggest that he deliberately provokes dressing room conflict, but he's not the ideal chap to apply soothing balm when it breaks out.’
    • ‘It is in the film to horrify and provoke an emotional reaction.’
    • ‘Deconstructionism is one of the words that provokes a strong reaction from both sides.’
    arouse, produce, evoke, cause, give rise to, occasion, call forth, draw forth, elicit, induce, inspire, excite, spark off, touch off, kindle, generate, engender, instigate, result in, lead to, bring on, contribute to, make for, foster, promote, breed, precipitate, prompt, trigger
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Stimulate or incite (someone) to do or feel something, especially by arousing anger in them.
      ‘a teacher can provoke you into working harder’
      • ‘We managed to provoke him to get up once, when he challenged Opposition members to substantiate their arguments.’
      • ‘You know that you are provoking me to say things.’
      • ‘The power of his language is illustrated through performance, provoking the audience to re-assess Shakespeare and his plays.’
      • ‘There are times when you have to provoke people, challenge them to go further.’
      • ‘Rather, they make her work harder to achieve it and they also provoke her to motivate other associates for the cause.’
      • ‘Secondly, we need a leader of charisma to badger and provoke his colleagues into action.’
      • ‘That would mean if an intruder provoked you to violence, you would only be convicted if the intruder could prove that he or she was no threat.’
      • ‘The anger lasted for a long time, trying to provoke her into saying things she would regret.’
      • ‘Whites smashed the windows in Holloway's home and threatened Coe's family, provoking him to put a gun in every room of his home.’
      • ‘Quinn, her husband and her friends are in no doubt that Blunkett's hand was in the revelation, as part of a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save the relationship by provoking her husband to end the marriage.’
      • ‘She is also comfortable following a traditional line with novels that do not seek to challenge or provoke the reader.’
      • ‘I view theatre as an institution that educates, stimulates, and provokes the audience - it makes them think and feel.’
      • ‘Indeed, Maytag tried to tighten control further and force more concessions, provoking workers to the brink of a strike in 2002.’
      • ‘Maybe it was the winter flu crisis that educated the Prime Minister, provoking him to tell Sir David Frost, on the Sunday morning television sofa, that Britain would have to make a real change in the way it funded its health service.’
      • ‘Mike's rowdiness, his provoking his father to anger, was not the cause of his father's death, absolutely not.’
      • ‘Anger over pay is already provoking many workers into action.’
      • ‘I don't think of myself as a psychiatric case but I had to feel that Spider was provoking me to consider existential matters of the human condition.’
      • ‘At one point, Kirie asks her father about his conversation with the aforementioned spiral fetishist, provoking him to indignantly accuse her of eavesdropping.’
      • ‘The plight of Dr Saleh, an Iraqi Kurd, was first published in the Yorkshire Post more than a year ago, provoking residents in Keighley to write to their MP Ann Cryer.’
      • ‘It said his name in a mocking way, provoking him to an anger that he dared not express in front of such a fiend.’
      goad, spur, prick, sting, prod, egg on, hound, badger, incite, rouse, stir, move, stimulate, motivate, excite, inflame, fire up, work up, impel, pressure, pressurize, prompt, induce, encourage, urge, inspire
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Deliberately make (someone) annoyed or angry.
      ‘Rachel refused to be provoked’
      • ‘Many blame him for provoking conservative voters and contributing to John Kerry's defeat in the presidential election.’
      • ‘She tried not show that Linda's slap had provoked her, as she fought an urge to rub her sore cheek.’
      • ‘He could see tears in her eyes, and it made him angry that Jeff was provoking her.’
      • ‘So we don't want to do anything to provoke him or to incite the violence we're trying to prevent.’
      • ‘Men of all ages simply kept their distance, though sometimes every now and then one would come and try to anger and provoke her.’
      • ‘He had deliberately provoked her, coaxed her into giving him the painful death he had coveted.’
      • ‘The same thing was continually provoking me: the manner in which men treated women.’
      • ‘Nathan was looking at her with a wild expression, the kind he got whenever she had deliberately provoked him.’
      • ‘The warning about conduct was meant to stop people deliberately provoking him.’
      • ‘I couldn't see why anyone would wish to provoke me to the point of anger over not having a significant other.’
      • ‘The police car backed off for safety reasons and to avoid provoking the truck's driver, RCMP said in a news release.’
      • ‘No longer did she feel like his blue eyes were challenging or provoking her.’
      • ‘She provoked me, she taunted me, she said, I'm never going back to you, all those sorts of things.’
      • ‘Sometimes applicants are deliberately provoked to see how they handle themselves.’
      • ‘I am easily provoked, and rather vicious when my toe is stepped on, but I'm quick to cool down and fast to reasoning.’
      • ‘Immediately, he begins relentlessly provoking the guards, acting from both the need to generate a story he can sell and his own antagonism towards authority.’
      • ‘It is therefore forbidden to provoke a person, thereby causing him to sin in anger, even though it is not certain that he will do so.’
      • ‘She could get very dangerous when she was provoked and irritated, and the teenagers knew that.’
      • ‘But he claimed he was provoked when the man threw an aerosol can at the group and then hit one of his friends with an 18 in rounders bat.’
      • ‘And Stine just kept right on provoking him with taunts and derision.’
      annoy, make angry, anger, incense, enrage, send into a rage, irritate, infuriate, exasperate, exacerbate, madden, pique, nettle, get a rise out of, take a rise out of, bother, upset, agitate, vex, irk, gall, get someone's back up, put someone's back up, get on someone's nerves, ruffle, ruffle someone's feathers, make someone's hackles rise, raise someone's hackles, make someone's blood boil, rub up the wrong way, put someone out
      annoying, irritating, exasperating, infuriating, provocative, maddening, goading, vexing, galling, affronting, insulting, offensive
      View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English (also in the sense ‘invoke, summon’): from Old French provoquer, from Latin provocare ‘challenge’, from pro- ‘forth’ + vocare ‘to call’.

Pronunciation

provoke

/prəˈvōk//prəˈvoʊk/