What's the right word here?

Bob: "Sue, why didn't you tell me that before?"
Sue:"I don't answer without provocation."

Is provocation the right word? I think Sue meant to say she wouldn't give the info unless asked. She wouldn't just volunteer the information.

(The conversation that inspired this question is from a TV show I watched. I think it was either Forever, or iZombie.)

  • 7
    Usually the answer to "why didn't you tell me that before?" is "Because you didn't ask".
    – Catija
    May 27, 2015 at 19:47
  • 1
    I don't give answers for free.
    – jxh
    May 27, 2015 at 19:59
  • 1
    solicitation, invitation, request.
    – Drew
    May 27, 2015 at 20:22
  • 1
    Sue:"I don't answer unless (explicilty) asked."
    – Misti
    May 27, 2015 at 20:45
  • I'm not even sure that 'answer' is the correct word. 'I don't volunteer information.' May 27, 2015 at 21:59

3 Answers 3


Personally I would have been inclined to use prompting (or being prompted) there:

3: to serve as the inciting cause of

Provocation tends to come with a connotation of anger, irritation, or conflict, but it does also have the required sense:

2c : to provide the needed stimulus for


"To answer without being asked." works for me.

  • Yes, it works for me too. But that isn't the word that was used. And I'm trying to think of either 1) What word was used and (2) whether it is the correct word. May 27, 2015 at 23:05
  • 1
    @BennyJ.Franky Are you actually trying to figure out what Liv said in the episode? If you tell me which episode you saw it in, I could listen to it... I'm pretty sure it was one of the more recent episodes... you could also ask on Movies & TV... we do a lot of that sort of thing over there... I'm also pretty sure it was iZombie because when you asked the question, it sounded vaguely familiar.
    – Catija
    May 27, 2015 at 23:16
  • @Catija. Thanks for your reply. Well, confirming what Liv (or whoever) said it would be my first step. The second step would be to determine whether that is the (an) appropriate word to use. If it isn't, I'd like to know what an appropriate word is. Um, it's one of early episodes of iZombie or Forever. (I quit watching after around 5 episodes of either show, I think.) May 28, 2015 at 23:39
  • @Catija,I searched a website that has transcripts for both shows for the word "provacation". It might have been from Forever (2014), s01e02 Episode. (springfieldspringfield.co.uk/…). The sentence is "... he gave an alibi without provocation". Hmmm... I have a funny feeling that, though this sentence has the word provocation, this episode isn't it. May 28, 2015 at 23:53
  • @Catija As you suggested, I asked on the Movies & TV forum. Here's the link: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/34858/… May 29, 2015 at 0:11

The various other comments and answers reflect that the more common byplay would use a term that connotes a simple invitation to reply.

The dialog offered reflects a more snarky interchange. There is clearly an edge to the respondent's reply. She is, in effect saying

You are not worthy of my input unless you get me riled up.

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