Definition of instigate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈinstəˌɡāt/


[with object]
1Bring about or initiate (an action or event): they instigated a reign of terror instigating legal proceedings
More example sentences
  • Here the audience obtains a glimpse of the power bloc which oversaw and instigated the events.
  • Over the years she has instigated various events in the Court and the town itself.
  • Does the development team have the power and flexibility to instigate catastrophic events in the game?
set in motion, get underway, get off the ground, start, commence, begin, initiate, launch, institute, set up, inaugurate, establish, organize;
actuate, generate, bring about;
start the ball rolling on, kick off
1.1 (instigate someone to do something) Incite someone to do something, especially something bad: instigating men to refuse allegiance to the civil powers
More example sentences
  • It is believed that the people were disappointed with the compensation given to them for their expropriated land, thus instigating them to commit arson.
  • The Knight of Swords' instigates you to be active, skillful and clever in work situations today.
  • ‘The Hanged Man’ instigates you to make changes in routines and patterns that have become meaningless and cumbersome in your life.
incite, encourage, urge, provoke, goad, spur (on), initiate, stimulate, push (for), prompt, induce;
arouse, rouse, inflame, excite, stir up
informal root on


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'urge on'): from Latin instigat- 'urged, incited', from the verb instigare, from in- 'toward' + stigare 'prick, incite'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: in·sti·gate

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