verb (used with object), in·sti·gat·ed, in·sti·gat·ing.
- to cause by incitement; foment: to instigate a quarrel.
- to urge, provoke, or incite to some action or course: to instigate the people to revolt.
- to bring about, as by incitement or urgingto instigate rebellion
- to urge on to some drastic or inadvisable action
1540s, back-formation from instigation or else from Latin instigatus, past participle of instigare “to urge on, incite” (see instigation). Related: Instigated; instigates; instigating.