- 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
Examples from the Web for motiveless
Iago's soliloquy, the motive-hunting of a motiveless malignity—how awful it is!Familiar Quotations
She had moods of motiveless irritation, and of unreasonable indulgence.The Son of Monte Christo
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
Nor is it a caprice, that is, motiveless volition, or will as a motor.The Religious Sentiment
Daniel G. Brinton
- 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 motiveless
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.