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motive

[moh-tiv]
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noun
  1. something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive.
  2. the goal or object of a person's actions: Her motive was revenge.
  3. (in art, literature, and music) a motif.
adjective
  1. causing, or tending to cause, motion.
  2. pertaining to motion.
  3. prompting to action.
  4. constituting a motive or motives.
verb (used with object), mo·tived, mo·tiv·ing.
  1. to motivate.

Origin of motive

1325–75; (adj.) Middle English (< Middle French motif) < Medieval Latin mōtīvus serving to move, equivalent to Latin mōt(us) (past participle of movēre to move) + -īvus -ive; (noun) Middle English (< Middle French motif) < Medieval Latin mōtīvum, noun use of neuter of mōtīvus
Related formsmo·tive·less, adjectivemo·tive·less·ly, adverbmo·tive·less·ness, nounwell-mo·tived, adjective

Synonyms

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1. motivation, incitement, stimulus, spur; influence, occasion, ground, cause.

Synonym study

1. Motive, incentive, inducement apply to whatever moves one to action. Motive is, literally, something that moves a person; an inducement, something that leads a person on; an incentive, something that inspires a person. Motive is applied mainly to an inner urge that moves or prompts a person to action, though it may also apply to a contemplated result, the desire for which moves the person: His motive was a wish to be helpful. Inducement is never applied to an inner urge, and seldom to a goal: The pleasure of wielding authority may be an inducement to get ahead. It is used mainly of opportunities offered by the acceptance of certain conditions, whether these are offered by a second person or by the factors of the situation: The salary offered me was a great inducement. Incentive was once used of anything inspiring or stimulating the emotions or imagination: incentives to piety; it has retained of this its emotional connotations, but (rather like inducement ) is today applied only to something offered as a reward, and offered particularly to stimulate competitive activity: to create incentives for higher achievement. 2. See reason.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for motiveless

Historical Examples

  • Iago's soliloquy, the motive-hunting of a motiveless malignity—how awful it is!

    Familiar Quotations

    John Bartlett

  • She had moods of motiveless irritation, and of unreasonable indulgence.

  • To its existence is often to be traced the motiveless crimes of the young.'

    Lady Byron Vindicated

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • This duplicity was not motiveless, although, on a cursory view, its purpose may not be apparent.

    Hildebrand

    Anonymous

  • Nor is it a caprice, that is, motiveless volition, or will as a motor.

    The Religious Sentiment

    Daniel G. Brinton


British Dictionary definitions for motiveless

motive

noun
  1. the reason for a certain course of action, whether conscious or unconscious
  2. a variant of motif (def. 2)
adjective
  1. of or causing motion or actiona motive force
  2. of or acting as a motive; motivating
verb (tr)
  1. to motivate
Derived Formsmotiveless, adjectivemotivelessly, adverbmotivelessness, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French motif, from Late Latin mōtīvus (adj) moving, from Latin mōtus, past participle of movēre to move
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

Word Origin and History for motiveless

adj.

1817, from motive (n.) + -less.

motive

n.

mid-14c., "something brought forward," from Old French motif "will, drive, motivation," noun use of adjective, literally "moving," from Medieval Latin motivus "moving, impelling," from Latin motus "a moving, motion," past participle of movere "to move" (see move (v.)). Meaning "that which inwardly moves a person to behave a certain way" is from early 15c.

motive

adj.

late 14c., from Old French motif "moving" or directly from Medieval Latin motivus "moving, impelling," from past participle stem of movere "to move" (see move (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

motiveless in Medicine

motive

(mōtĭv)
n.
  1. An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action.learned drive
adj.
  1. Causing or able to cause motion.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.