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[moh-tuh-veyt] /ˈmoʊ təˌveɪt/
verb (used with object), motivated, motivating.
to provide with a motive, or a cause or reason to act; incite; impel.
Origin of motivate
First recorded in 1860-65; motive + -ate1
Related forms
motivator, noun
demotivate, verb (used with object), demotivated, demotivating.
demotivator, noun
nonmotivated, adjective
remotivate, verb (used with object), remotivated, remotivating.
unmotivated, adjective
unmotivating, adjective
well-motivated, adjective
induce, move, provoke, prompt, cause. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for motivate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The essential thing about value is that it motivate our conduct.

    Social Value B. M. Anderson
  • These problems may then motivate you to enter individual therapy.

  • He had felt it before, but the feeling was strong enough now to motivate action.

    Earthsmith Milton Lesser
  • Any sort of desire or need, left unsatisfied in the day, may motivate a dream.

    Psychology Robert S. Woodworth
  • Such a case appeals to us especially fitted to motivate the creation of projection formations.

    Totem and Taboo Sigmund Freud
British Dictionary definitions for motivate


(transitive) to give incentive to
Derived Forms
motivator, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for motivate

1863, "to stimulate toward action," from motive + -ate (2); perhaps modeled on French motiver or German motivieren. Related: Motivated; motivating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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