AskDefine | Define instigate

Dictionary Definition



1 provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; "set off great unrest among the people" [syn: incite, set off, stir up]
2 serve as the inciting cause of; "She prompted me to call my relatives" [syn: prompt, inspire]

User Contributed Dictionary



From the instigatus, past participle of instigare to instigate; prefix in- in + a root akin to stechen to prick, stick.



  1. To goad or urge forward; to set on; to provoke; to incite.
    He hath only instigated his blackest agents to the very extent of their malignity. -Bp. Warburton.

Usage notes

Commonly used with reference to evil actions; as, to instigate one to a crime.

Derived terms

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abet, activate, actuate, agitate, arouse, blow the coals, bring, bring on, call forth, contrive, draw down, draw on, effect, elicit, evoke, excite, fan, fan the flame, feed the fire, ferment, fire, foment, get, goad, heat, heat up, hint, impassion, incense, incite, induce, inflame, insinuate, inspire, lead, motivate, nettle, obtain, pique, plan, plot, procure, provoke, put up to, raise, rally, scheme, set, set on, sic on, stir the embers, stir up, suggest, superinduce, tickle, urge, whet, whip up, work up
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