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90s Slang You Should Know


[in-sti-geyt] /ˈɪn stɪˌgeɪt/
verb (used with object), instigated, instigating.
to cause by incitement; foment:
to instigate a quarrel.
to urge, provoke, or incite to some action or course:
to instigate the people to revolt.
Origin of instigate
1535-45; < Latin instīgātus past participle of instīgāre to goad on, impel, equivalent to in- in-2 + -stīg- goad, prick (akin to stigma, stick2) + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
instigatingly, adverb
instigative, adjective
instigator, instigant
[in-sti-guh nt] /ˈɪn stɪ gənt/ (Show IPA),
uninstigated, adjective
uninstigative, adjective
1. arouse, provoke. 2. induce, stimulate, encourage, push; initiate, start. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for instigator
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Bodley evidently was, if not the instigator, at any rate the paymaster for this second journey.

    The Mystery of Francis Bacon William T. Smedley
  • Had Madame, therefore, been the instigator of the revenge, she would have been right.

    Ten Years Later Alexandre Dumas, Pere
  • He is said to have been the instigator of the fierce persecution of the Christians under Galerius in 303.

  • All at once it occurred to him that some reward was due the instigator of his success.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Sometimes, I fancy that the instigator of the crime was a man who was in love with me.

    My Memoirs Marguerite Steinheil
  • I felt sure that a plot had been formed against me, and that he was its framer and instigator.

    Will Weatherhelm W.H.G. Kingston
  • Just now she is making donations of pipes, tobacco, handkerchiefs (her own or The instigator's), and good advice on matrimony.

  • I was the instigator of the mischief, I pulled the wires, and if we are questioned let me speak first.

    Uarda, Complete Georg Ebers
British Dictionary definitions for instigator


verb (transitive)
to bring about, as by incitement or urging: to instigate rebellion
to urge on to some drastic or inadvisable action
Derived Forms
instigatingly, adverb
instigation, noun
instigative, adjective
instigator, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin instīgāre to stimulate, incite; compare Greek stizein to prick
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 instigator

1590s, from Latin instigator, agent noun from instigare (see instigation). Fem. formation instigatrix is recorded from 1610s.



1540s, back-formation from instigation or else from Latin instigatus, past participle of instigare "to urge on, incite" (see instigation). Related: Instigated; instigates; instigating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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