[ in-sen-tiv ]
/ ɪnˈsɛn tɪv /


something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity.


inciting, as to action; stimulating; provocative.

Origin of incentive

1400–50; late Middle English <Late Latin incentīvus provocative, Latin: setting the tune, equivalent to incent(us) (past participle of incinere to play (an instrument, tunes); in-in-2 + -cinere, combining form of canere to sing) + -īvus-ive

synonym study for incentive

1. See motive.

OTHER WORDS FROM incentive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for incentive

British Dictionary definitions for incentive

/ (ɪnˈsɛntɪv) /


a motivating influence; stimulus
  1. an additional payment made to employees as a means of increasing production
  2. (as modifier)an incentive scheme


serving to incite to action

Derived forms of incentive

incentively, adverb

Word Origin for incentive

C15: from Late Latin incentīvus (adj), from Latin: striking up, setting the tune, from incinere to sing, from in- ² + canere to sing
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