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[pruh-voh-king] /prəˈvoʊ kɪŋ/
serving to provoke; causing annoyance.
Origin of provoking
1520-30; provoke + -ing2
Related forms
provokingly, adverb
unprovoking, adjective
unprovokingly, adverb


[pruh-vohk] /prəˈvoʊk/
verb (used with object), provoked, provoking.
to anger, enrage, exasperate, or vex.
to stir up, arouse, or call forth (feelings, desires, or activity):
The mishap provoked a hearty laugh.
to incite or stimulate (a person, animal, etc.) to action.
to give rise to, induce, or bring about:
What could have provoked such an incident?
Obsolete. to summon.
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin prōvocāre to call forth, challenge, provoke, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + vocāre to call; akin to vōx voice
Related forms
provoker, noun
misprovoke, verb (used with object), misprovoked, misprovoking.
overprovoke, verb, overprovoked, overprovoking.
preprovoke, verb (used with object), preprovoked, preprovoking.
unprovoked, adjective
1. irk, annoy, aggravate, exacerbate, infuriate. See irritate. 2. rouse, instigate. 2, 3. See incite. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for provoking
  • Rock concerts aren't generally known for their thought-provoking tranquillity.
  • The result was a wide-ranging and thought-provoking conversation.
  • We fear hurting their feelings, alienating them, or provoking them into complaining to some higher authority.
  • Anyway, thanks again for an interesting and thought provoking read.
  • That's a thought-provoking but ultimately unconvincing model in its current form.
  • None of these concepts seems to be anything particularly thought-provoking.
  • The books are dry, full of scientific neologisms, but extremely funny and thought-provoking.
  • It is the impact of that choice that causes dissatisfaction, by disrupting bedtime routines and provoking arguments.
  • The sustained vitality of a complex network requires that the net keep provoking itself out of balance.
  • The reason is that, on the questions that are provoking intramural trashtalk, there is no science.
British Dictionary definitions for provoking


verb (transitive)
to anger or infuriate
to cause to act or behave in a certain manner; incite or stimulate
to promote (certain feelings, esp anger, indignation, etc) in a person
(obsolete) to summon
Derived Forms
provoking, adjective
provokingly, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin prōvocāre to call forth, from vocāre to call
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 provoking

1520s, "that incites or instigates," present participle adjective from provoke. Meaning "irritating, frustrating" is attested from 1640s. Related: Provokingly.



late 14c., from Old French provoker, provochier (12c., Modern French provoquer) and directly from Latin provocare "call forth, challenge," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + vocare "to call" (see voice (n.)). Related: Provoked; provoking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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