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agent provocateur

[ey-juh nt pruh-vok-uh-tur; French a-zhahn praw-vaw-ka-tœr]
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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/.
  1. a secret agent hired to incite suspected persons to some illegal action, outbreak, etc., that will make them liable to punishment.
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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. 2018

Related Words

agitator, firebrand, goad, incendiary, instigator, operative, rabble-rouser, radical, ringleader, spark, spy, troublemaker, provocateur, provoker

Examples from the Web for agent provocateur

Historical Examples

  • 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

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