English Dictionary

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instigator (ˈɪnstɪɡeɪtə) 



  1. a person who brings something about, as by incitement or urging   ⇒ instigators of reform
  2. a person who urges someone on to some drastic or inadvisable action   ⇒ He was accused of being the main instigator of the coup.


View thesaurus entry
= ringleader, inciter, motivator, leader, spur, goad, troublemaker, incendiary, firebrand, prime mover, fomenter, agitator, stirrer, mischief-maker

instigate (ˈɪnstɪˌɡeɪt Pronunciation for instigate


verb (transitive)

  1. to bring about, as by incitement or urging   ⇒ to instigate rebellion
  2. to urge on to some drastic or inadvisable action

Derived Forms

ˈinstiˌgatingly adverb
ˌinstiˈgation noun
ˈinstiˌgative adjective
ˈinstiˌgator noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin instīgāre to stimulate, incite; compare Greek stizein to prick

Translations for 'instigator'

  • British English: instigator The instigator of an event is the person who causes it to happen. NOUNHe was accused of being the main instigator of the coup.
  • Brazilian Portuguese: instigador instigadora
  • Chinese: 唆使者
  • European Spanish: instigador instigadora
  • French: instigateur instigatrice
  • German: Anstifter Anstifterin
  • Italian: istigatore istigatrice
  • Japanese: 扇動者
  • Korean: 선동자
  • Portuguese: instigador instigadora
  • Spanish: instigador instigadora

Example Sentences Including 'instigator'

"Fighting in the playoffs is a rare occurrence because they're afraid of getting the instigator or a five-minute penalty.
Ottawa Sun (2003)
According to the scriptwriter, Mary Magdalene had been the instigator and leader of this expedition.
Hilton, John Buxton Passion in the Peak
But Mr King is expected to argue Mr Abi-Saab was the major instigator of the plot to remove the former mayor.
The Australian (2005)
How do you know he was not a major instigator in the Bowscar break-out?
Kippax, Frank The Scar
I was instigator and remain director of a successful masters programme in public health.
British Medical Journal (2002)
In the morning, he'd been the instigator as they were dressing for breakfast.
Mark Mills AMAGANSETT (2004)
It is not clear if the ` instigator ' was William Day or the entirely innocent Anita.
Paul Preston DOVES OF WAR: Four Women of Spain (2002)
It means the individual just remains an instigator rather than a thinker.
Times, Sunday Times (2002)
Steve McQueen is considered by some to be the instigator of the phrase.
Times, Sunday Times (2002)


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