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[pruh-vok-uh-tiv] /prəˈvɒk ə tɪv/
tending or serving to provoke; inciting, stimulating, irritating, or vexing.
something provocative.
Origin of provocative
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Late Latin prōvocātīvus. See provocation, -ive
Related forms
provocatively, adverb
provocativeness, noun
half-provocative, adjective
nonprovocative, adjective
nonprovocatively, adverb
nonprovocativeness, noun
quasi-provocative, adjective
quasi-provocatively, adverb
unprovocative, adjective
unprovocatively, adverb
unprovocativeness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for provocative
  • The lessons he learns are as provocative today as when the film was originally released.
  • No, what truly makes this parasite provocative is its profitability.
  • That's a brave and provocative idea that may not come as a complete surprise to the latest generation of biophysicists.
  • provocative arguments swirled around the importance of design interfaces, accessibility, and ease of use.
  • It's a terrific show for the same reason, rewarding our attention with a blizzard of provocative ideas.
  • They are guaranteed to be either provocative or life-changing, depending on how seriously you take their ideas.
  • The results are provocative, sometimes funny, sometimes shocking.
  • The distinction between these two projects is provocative.
  • Great questions and provocative answers, not at all surprising but well elucidated here.
  • Yet this material is sufficiently rich and provocative to suggest an important next step for educators.
British Dictionary definitions for provocative


acting as a stimulus or incitement, esp to anger or sexual desire; provoking: a provocative look, a provocative remark
Derived Forms
provocatively, adverb
provocativeness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for provocative

mid-15c., "eliciting," from Middle French provocatif (15c.) and directly from Late Latin provocativus "calling forth," from provocat-, past participle stem of Latin provocare (see provoke). Specifically of sexual desire from 1620s. Related: Provocatively; provocativeness. The earliest appearance of the word in English is as a noun meaning "an aphrodisiac" (early 15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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