- something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive.
- the goal or object of a person's actions: Her motive was revenge.
- (in art, literature, and music) a motif.
- causing, or tending to cause, motion.
- pertaining to motion.
- prompting to action.
- constituting a motive or motives.
- to motivate.
Origin of motive
SynonymsSee more synonyms for motive on Thesaurus.com
- a combining form of motive: automotive.
Examples from the Web for motive
Did Michael Brown have a motive to violently attack the officer?There’s No Conspiracy in Ferguson’s Secret Jury
November 17, 2014
The story remains mysterious, and authorities are not revealing a motive yet.Family's Best Friend Charged With Murdering Them All
November 7, 2014
Communist-era clerks were famously rude and indifferent, because they had no motive to make people happy.Why Your Waiter Hates You
October 26, 2014
After all, Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah have the motive and the firepower to fight ISIS.Please—Let's Not Destroy ISIS
September 15, 2014
“People in the Jewish community are entitled to question the motive that lay behind the decision,” said Johnson.London Theater Halts Jewish Film Festival Over Israeli Government Money
August 6, 2014
What other motive they can have, is to us, at least, inconceivable.
One can only motive and explain this suicide by self-immolating love.
It is a fault in art because it is impossible to motive it in a few lines.
Filial devotion to her father had been one motive, but not the only one.
In addition to this motive he felt an inclination to probe the matter to its utmost depths.
- the reason for a certain course of action, whether conscious or unconscious
- a variant of motif (def. 2)
- of or causing motion or actiona motive force
- of or acting as a motive; motivating
- to motivate
Word Origin and History for motive
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.
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.)).
- An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action.learned drive
- Causing or able to cause motion.