• synonyms


[pruh-vok-uh-tur, -too r; French praw-vaw-ka-tœr]
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noun, plural pro·vo·ca·teurs [pruh-vok-uh-turz, -too rz; French praw-vaw-ka-tœr] /prəˌvɒk əˈtɜrz, -ˈtʊərz; French prɔ vɔ kaˈtœr/.
  1. a person who provokes trouble, causes dissension, or the like; agitator.
  2. (italics) French. agent provocateur.
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Origin of provocateur

1915–20; < French < Latin prōvocātor challenger, appellant, equivalent to provocā(re) to provoke + -tor -tor
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for provocateur


  1. a person who deliberately behaves controversially in order to provoke argument or other strong reactions
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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

Word Origin and History for provocateur


1915 (Emma Goldman), shortened form of agent provocateur "person hired to make trouble" (1845), from French provocateur, from Latin provocator "challenger," from provocare "to call out" (see provoke).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper