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



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.
    • 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?)


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