[ in-sti-geyt ]
See synonyms for: instigateinstigatedinstigatinginstigative on

verb (used with object),in·sti·gat·ed, in·sti·gat·ing.
  1. to cause by incitement; foment: to instigate a quarrel.

  2. to urge, provoke, or incite to some action or course: to instigate the people to revolt.

Origin of instigate

First recorded in 1535–45; from Latin instīgātus, past participle of instīgāre “to goad on, impel,” equivalent to in- “in” + -stīg- “to goad, prick” + -ātus past participle suffix; see in-2, -ate1; akin to stigma, stick2

Other words for instigate

Other words from instigate

  • in·sti·gat·ing·ly, adverb
  • in·sti·ga·tive, adjective
  • in·sti·ga·tor, noun
  • un·in·sti·gat·ed, adjective
  • un·in·sti·ga·tive, adjective

Words Nearby instigate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use instigate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for instigate


/ (ˈɪnstɪˌɡeɪt) /

  1. to bring about, as by incitement or urging: to instigate rebellion

  2. to urge on to some drastic or inadvisable action

Origin of instigate

C16: from Latin instīgāre to stimulate, incite; compare Greek stizein to prick

Derived forms of instigate

  • instigatingly, adverb
  • instigation, noun
  • instigative, adjective
  • instigator, 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