A provocation makes someone angry or sometimes even violent. Telling a professional boxer how ugly he is would be considered a provocation — one that might get you punched in the face.
Provocation is the act of provoking someone — doing something just to get a reaction. During election season, opponents sometimes use provocation to try to ruin one another's reputation. However, sometimes it backfires and the one doing the provoking, looking like a bully, loses votes. Some celebrities whose stars are fading use provocation like making scandalous statements to try to keep their names in the headlines.