Open main menu



Borrowed from Middle French provoquer, from Old French, from Latin prōvocāre. Doublet of provocate.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɹəˈvəʊk/
  • (US) IPA(key): /pɹəˈvoʊk/
  • Rhymes: -əʊk
  • (file)


provoke (third-person singular simple present provokes, present participle provoking, simple past and past participle provoked)

  1. (transitive) To cause someone to become annoyed or angry.
    Don't provoke the dog; it may try to bite you.
    • 1577, Raphaell Holinshed, “[The Historie of Englande.]”, in The Firste Volume of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande [], volume I, London: Imprinted [by Henry Bynneman] for Iohn Harrison, OCLC 55195564, page 26, columns 1–2:
      In the meane time it chaunced, that Marcus Papyrius ſtroke one of the Galles on the heade with his ſtaffe, because he preſumed to ſtroke his bearde: with whiche iniurie the Gaulle beeing prouoked, ſlue Papyrius (as he ſate) with hys ſworde, and therewith the ſlaughter being begun with one, all the reſidue of thoſe auncient fatherly men as they ſat in theyr Chayres were ſlaine and cruelly murthered.
    • Bible, Eph. vi. 4
      Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.
  2. (transitive) To bring about a reaction.
    • J. Burroughs
      To the poet the meaning is what he pleases to make it, what it provokes in his own soul.
    • 2011 November 12, “International friendly: England 1-0 Spain”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Spain were provoked into a response and Villa almost provided a swift equaliser when he rounded Hart but found the angle too acute and could only hit the side-netting.
  3. (obsolete) To appeal.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit