Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-sait Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To provoke, to stir up, to rouse to action.

Notes: Remember that the [s] sound is represented by C in today's word and you should have no problem spelling it. The final E demands that the second I be pronounced long, as [ai]. It comes with two nouns, incitement and incitation; the former is the more popular. That adjective is inciteful, not to be confused with its homophone, insightful.

In Play: We usually use this verb with an object that implies violence: "Ralph tried to incite a rebellion against the removal of soft drink vending machines from his school." However, it may be used with other words, too: "The 60s demonstrated that new freedom can incite an avalanche of creativity."

Word History: Today's Good Word entered English from Old French enciter, inherited from Latin incitare "to urge forward". The Latin word comprises in-, an intensive prefix here, + citare "to stimulate", the frequentative (indicating repeated action) of ciere "to put in motion". Latin inherited Proto-Indo-European keiê- "to set into motion", converting it into ciere. Greek converted the same word into kinein "to move", the adjective from which was kinetikos "moving", origin of English kinetic "involving movement". The appearance of the word cite in incite is not coincidental. In the middle of the 15th century, this word meant "to call, to summon", that is to say, "to cause to move". (I hope this treatment of incite will incite you to thank Mark Bailey, the source of today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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