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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for provocatively
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She allowed herself to smile mysteriously, provocatively at him.

    Leonora Arnold Bennett
  • She smiled up at him provocatively and his sombre face lightened.

    The Lamp of Fate Margaret Pedler
  • “I can see that grand supper-party not coming off,” said Joan provocatively.

  • The words were wafted back to us provocatively upon the evening air.

    American Adventures Julian Street
  • The removal of the hat was the last straw, for Edward's hair is provocatively red.

  • "I don't blame him at all," sobbed Miss Hawtry, provocatively, with the art of long practice both on the stage and off.

    Blue-grass and Broadway Maria Thompson Daviess
  • The only change was in her eyes, which no longer smiled into his so provocatively.

    The Envoy, Her Horace Brown Fyfe
  • "I hear they call Georgie Bassett the 'little gentleman,'" ventured the barber, provocatively, meeting with instant success.

    Penrod Booth Tarkington
British Dictionary definitions for provocatively


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 provocatively



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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