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See more synonyms for provocative on Thesaurus.com
  1. tending or serving to provoke; inciting, stimulating, irritating, or vexing.
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  1. something provocative.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for provocative

insulting, offensive, outrageous, disturbing, exciting, challenging, inspirational, alluring, intriguing, seductive, interesting, sexy, annoying, galling, heady, influential, intoxicating, provoking, pushing, stimulant

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


  1. acting as a stimulus or incitement, esp to anger or sexual desire; provokinga provocative look; a provocative remark
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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.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper