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 a·gents pro·vo·ca·teurs [ey-juh nts pruh-vok-uh-tur; French a-zhahn praw-vaw-ka-tœr] /ˈeɪ dʒənts prəˌvɒk əˈtɜr; French a ʒɑ̃ prɔ vɔ kaˈtœr/.

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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for agent provocateur

  • That is why one was never sure that the stranger who denounced Rasputin and his friends was not an agent-provocateur.

    The Minister of Evil|William Le Queux

British Dictionary definitions for agent provocateur

agent provocateur

/ French (aʒɑ̃ prɔvɔkatœr) /

noun plural 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