Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for May 25, 2020 is:

instigate • IN-stuh-gayt  • verb

: to goad or urge forward : provoke


“The big thing about effective advertising is that it uses data effectively to instigate behavior.” — Nicole Ortiz, Adweek, 14 Apr. 2020

“In his usual genuine and silly fashion, [Chris] Martin sincerely explained his intent for making the live video and instigating a new series of live Instagram performances. ‘What would be nice would be to check in with some of you out there and see how you’re doing…. I had an idea that we could call this thing “Together At Home.” And who knows, maybe tomorrow someone else will take it over,’ he said.” — Sean Glaister, The Johns Hopkins (University) News-Letter, 6 Apr. 2020

Did you know?

Instigate is often used as a synonym of incite (as in “hoodlums instigating violence”), but the two words differ slightly in their overall usage. Incite usually stresses an act of stirring something up that one did not necessarily initiate (“the court’s decision incited riots”). Instigate implies responsibility for initiating or encouraging someone else’s action and usually suggests dubious or underhanded intent (“he was charged with instigating a conspiracy”). Another similar word, foment, implies causing something by means of persistent goading (“the leader’s speeches fomented a rebellion”). Deriving from the past participle of the Latin verb instigare, instigate stepped into English in the 16th century, after incite and ahead of foment.

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