English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Just I want to know the difference between the "stir up" and "provoke", where it should be placed exactly.

share|improve this question
up vote 1 down vote accepted


Well, to stir up means to instigate, or initiate or to set in motion. So a sample sentence could be

Che stirred up a revolution against oppression.

To provoke is to stimulate or give rise to a strong emotion or a reaction, which is typically an unwelcome one. A sample sentence could be

Che provoked the masses to set all the houses on fire.

Does that clear your doubts?

share|improve this answer
Yes Dear n0nChun, It is very clear and useful. – A.C.Balaji Mar 18 '11 at 8:37

In this sense provoke is about creating a reaction

He provoked the crowd by telling them what their enemies would do

while stir up is used to mean excite

He stirred up the crowd by telling them how strong they were

Stir up is in common English usage because of a phrase in the old Anglican collect for the last Sunday before Advent

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people

where it was a translation of the Latin excita. It was taken as an indicator that it was time to make (i.e. stir up) Christmas puddings.

share|improve this answer

Provoke means "stimulate or give rise to a reaction or emotion (typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone," while stir up means "arouse strong feeling in (someone); move or excite.

The decision provoked a storm of protest from civil rights organizations.
She stirred up the sweating crowd.

The difference is that provoke is also used for an unwelcome reaction or emotion, while stir up is used for a strong feeling.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.