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Instigate vs incite

Instigate means to cause an event, action or situation to happen, to initiate an event, action or situation. Related words are instigates, instigated, instigating, instigative, instigation, instigator. The word instigate is derived from the Latin word instigatus, which means to urge.

Incite means to provoke a person or a group of people to act in a certain way. The word incite has the connotation of applying to an illegal, dangerous or violent situation. Related words are incites, incited, inciting, incitation, incitement, inciter. Incite is derived from the Latin word incitare, which means to urge, to rouse. Remember, instigate and incite mean virtually the same thing, but incite carries the connotation of describing something illegal, dangerous or violent.


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Examples

Expressing his disappointment over the Uttarakhand High Court pulling up the Centre for recommending President’s rule, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kailash Vijayvargiya on Wednesday said this might instigate a new debate, adding his party enjoys absolute majority in the hill state. (The Times of India)

Jan Jambon’s ideas: members of the public to instigate defamation proceedings against Minister Jambon (The Brussels Times)

This was a way for those in the free world to help instigate change within the Soviet regime. (The Wall Street Journal)

Amnesty International report on the army and shi’ites clash has been condemned by civil society group, Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) who described it as gross misrepresentation of facts and an attempt to incite sectarian crisis which could snowball into a full blown conflict. (The Daily Post Nigeria)

“Periscope is not for content that is intended to incite violence, or includes a direct and specific threat to violence.” (Newsweek Magazine)

The amended bill defines hate speech as unjust discriminatory words and behavior toward people of foreign origin, including threats of harm to their bodies or lives and significant insults, intended to incite exclusion from communities. (The Japan Times)

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