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Initiate, Instigate & Investigate

There are many words in English which have similar looks and I have seen many people getting confused between which one to use in the right context. I am on a spree to find all such words and give appropriate examples to make these words clear so that no one ever gets confused! This article will help you know the above-mentioned words and how to use each of them. 

2:26 min read
  Ramya Shankar  —  Grammar Tips
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Remember, the word ‘init’ means “start”. So, to initiate something means to start something new or to ‘start-off’. It could be anything from a new project, construction of a new house, wedding preparations and so on. Whenever you start a new process – that means you have initiated something.

For example

·         Let us initiate the process tomorrow.

·         She initiated the movement with lot of enthusiasm but later lost the whole purpose.

·         Initially, we will hire two candidates for this job. We will hire more later if there is a need.

·         Your initial commission will be 50$ and we will increase it as you grow in the organization.

·         If you want to be successful, you have to take more initiatives.

Initiative means to do something that has never been tried before – lead an idea, proposal or a solution. ‘Taking an initiative’ means proactively working on something new. Example – Take the initiative to plant 100 trees this week!



To instigate someone means to provoke someone into initiating an action which wouldn’t happen otherwise. The word comes from incite which means to persuade someone to act in a violent or unruly way.

Even though words like encourage, push are synonyms of instigate, they are used in a negative sense within the context of instigate – as in ‘encourage for violence’, ‘push for riots’ and so on.

·         Now I realise that she instigated me into fighting with the principal and I easily fell for the trap.

·         With the current social media addiction, it is easy to instigate people against just about anything.

·         My boss gets instigated very easily. (he acts without finding out the reality)

·         The fake reports from media instigates unnecessary fights between different religions.



To investigate a matter or a case is to study in detail about it and get all possible information relating to the matter.

·         She jumped into conclusion without investigating all the facts.

·         Do a thorough investigation on all the characters involved before picking on the killer.

·         The case is being investigated by the police.

Let us see an example where we can use all the three words to make the meaning clearer –

The case is under investigation and we have initiated action against all the suspects. We request the media to refrain from circulating fake news and instigate violence amongst people.

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