tending or serving to provoke; inciting, stimulating, irritating, or vexing.


something provocative.

Origin of provocative

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English word from Late Latin word prōvocātīvus. See provocation, -ive
Related formspro·voc·a·tive·ly, adverbpro·voc·a·tive·ness, nounhalf-pro·voc·a·tive, adjectivenon·pro·voc·a·tive, adjectivenon·pro·voc·a·tive·ly, adverbnon·pro·voc·a·tive·ness, nounqua·si-pro·voc·a·tive, adjectivequa·si-pro·voc·a·tive·ly, adverbun·pro·voc·a·tive, adjectiveun·pro·voc·a·tive·ly, adverbun·pro·voc·a·tive·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for provocative

Contemporary Examples of provocative

Historical Examples of provocative

  • Monsieur, if you wish to be heard, let me beg of you not to be provocative in your language.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • If the few words I have used so far have been provocative, I regret it.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • To see these flying-fish this way was provocative of thought.

  • The conduct of McNeice and Malcolmson was offensive and provocative.

    The Red Hand of Ulster

    George A. Birmingham

  • Theirs indeed was not provocative of discussion; if satisfactory, it was also obvious.

    Tristram of Blent

    Anthony Hope

British Dictionary definitions for provocative



acting as a stimulus or incitement, esp to anger or sexual desire; provokinga provocative look; a provocative remark
Derived Formsprovocatively, adverbprovocativeness, 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

Word Origin and History for provocative

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