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agent provocateur

[ey-juh nt pruh-vok-uh-tur; French a-zhahn praw-vaw-ka-tœr] /ˈeɪ dʒənt prəˌvɒk əˈtɜr; French a ʒɑ̃ prɔ vɔ kaˈtœr/
noun, plural agents provocateurs
[ey-juh nts pruh-vok-uh-tur; French a-zhahn praw-vaw-ka-tœr] /ˈeɪ dʒənts prəˌvɒk əˈtɜr; French a ʒɑ̃ prɔ vɔ kaˈtœr/ (Show IPA)
a secret agent hired to incite suspected persons to some illegal action, outbreak, etc., that will make them liable to punishment.
Origin of agent provocateur
1875-80; < French: inciting agent; see provocation, -eur Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for agent provocateur
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The proper business of an ‘agent provocateur’ is to provoke.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • Galban seized the opportunity to bring his talents as agent provocateur into the field.

    The Green Book Mr Jkai
  • I was looking about to find the German agent provocateur, but I failed to find him.

    Spies of the Kaiser William Le Queux
  • Was Reese merely a "stool pigeon" or was he an "agent provocateur?"

    The Everett massacre Walker C. Smith
  • The seditious placards posted up at Norwich may have been the work of some fanatic or of an agent provocateur.

    William Pitt and the Great War John Holland Rose
  • They seem to find some pleasure in admiring him in the part of agent provocateur.

  • The reason you brought this agent provocateur, this Trotskyite wrecker, to this position of ridiculous power.

    Expediter Dallas McCord Reynolds
British Dictionary definitions for agent provocateur

agent provocateur

/aʒɑ̃ prɔvɔkatœr/
noun (pl) agents provocateurs (aʒɑ̃ prɔvɔkatœr)
a secret agent employed to provoke suspected persons to commit illegal acts and so be discredited or liable to punishment
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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