Provocative vs. provoking


Would you kindly let me know in what ways the adjectives ‘provocative’ and ‘provoking’ are different? According to the Oxford English Dictionary ‘provoking’ means ‘provocative’. Does this mean that the words are synonyms in some instances?

As far as I know, the adjectives ‘provoking’ and ‘provocative’ are synonyms in that they both make a reaction start. Yet the results can be different. ‘Provoking’ means ‘annoying’, ‘exasperating’, whereas ‘provocative’ can mean ‘likely to provoke a violent response’, ‘deliberately provoking another’s feelings, especially to anger or lust’ or simply ‘causing thought’.

It would be interesting to hear another opinion on this, though.

Hi Englishuser,

To me the full-blooded adjective has to be provocative suggesting that the thing described is in a way challenging and asking for a response. A provocative statement/comment is deliberately crafted to encourage/force people to respond. Provoking as an adjective seems to me a lame thing because it is closely associated with the verb sense of trying to create a similar response. So we have: either a provocative statement or a statement provoking argument. Similarly: an evocative picture or a picture evoking a mood or feeling.


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The explanation from Alan is the best. He gave a clear and good explanation. I agree with him.

I don’t understand anything from Alan’s explanation.
I endure much more gentle professional Conchita’s one.
Yours Faithfully
Happy Sailor Jan