provoke provoke (prə-vōkʹ) verb, transitiveprovoked, provoking, provokes1. To incite to anger or resentment. 2. To stir to action or feeling. 3. To give rise to; evoke: provoke laughter. 4. To bring about deliberately; induce: provoke a fight. provokʹingly adverbSynonyms: provoke, incite, excite, stimulate, arouse, rouse, stir. These verbs are compared in the sense of moving a person to action or feeling or summoning something into being by moving a person in this way. Provoke, the least explicit with respect to means, frequently does little more than state the consequences produced: “Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath” (Shakespeare). “A situation which in the country would have provoked meetings” (John Galsworthy). To incite is to provoke and urge on: The insurrection was incited by members of the outlawed opposition. Excite especially implies the provoking of a strong reaction or powerful emotion: The play is bound to fail; the plot excites little interest or curiosity. To stimulate is to excite to activity or to renewed vigor of action as if by spurring or goading: “Our vigilance was stimulated by our finding traces of a large . . . encampment” (Francis Parkman). Arouse and rouse suggest awakening, as from inactivity or apathy; rouse, the stronger term, often implies incitement to vigorous or animated activity or excitement of strong emotion: “In a democratic society like ours, relief must come through an aroused popular conscience that sears the conscience of the people”s representatives” (Felix Frankfurter). “His mother . . . endeavored to rouse him from this passive state” (Washington Irving). “The oceangoing steamers . . . roused in him wild and painful longings” (Arnold Bennett). To stir is to prompt to activity, to arouse strong but usually agreeable feelings, or to provoke trouble or commotion: “It was him as stirred up th” young woman to preach last night” (George Eliot). “I have seldom been so . . . stirred by any piece of writing” (Mark Twain). “Men blame you that you have stirred a quarrel up” (William Butler Yeats). See also synonyms at annoy.