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View synonyms for motive

motive

1

[ moh-tiv ]

noun

  1. something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive.

    Synonyms: cause, ground, occasion, influence, spur, stimulus, incitement, motivation

  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.

-motive

2
  1. a combining form of motive:

    automotive.

motive

/ ˈməʊtɪv /

noun

  1. the reason for a certain course of action, whether conscious or unconscious
  2. See motif
    a variant of motif


adjective

  1. of or causing motion or action

    a motive force

  2. of or acting as a motive; motivating

verb

  1. to motivate

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Derived Forms

  • ˈmotivelessly, adverb
  • ˈmotiveless, adjective
  • ˈmotivelessness, noun

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Other Words From

  • motive·less adjective
  • motive·less·ly adverb
  • motive·less·ness noun
  • well-motived adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of motive1

First recorded in 1325–75; (for the adjective) Middle English, from Middle French motif, from Medieval Latin mōtīvus “serving to move,” from Latin mōt(us) “moved” (past participle of movēre “to move”; move ) + -īvus -ive; noun derivative of the adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of motive1

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

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Synonym Study

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. See reason.

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Example Sentences

Marx forecast that the profit motive would lead to overworking and exhausting the fertility of our soil and other natural systems.

I think a misconception everybody has is that I had an ulterior motive.

Did Michael Brown have a motive to violently attack the officer?

The story remains mysterious, and authorities are not revealing a motive yet.

Communist-era clerks were famously rude and indifferent, because they had no motive to make people happy.

The voice of the orator peculiarly should be free from studied effects, and responsive to motive.

Not suspecting her motive, he represented the hazard of putting so great an affront on the favourite of the Empress.

The wish to go to heaven without dying is, as I know, a motive derived from child-life.

But her parents, did you never discover any thing about them—who or what they were—the motive of so strange an abandonment?

Whatever was his motive, he persisted in his resolution, and to the end was faithful to his oath.

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