noun mo·tive \ˈmō-tiv, 2 is also mō-ˈtēv\

: a reason for doing something

Full Definition of MOTIVE

:  something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act
:  a recurrent phrase or figure that is developed through the course of a musical composition
:  motif
mo·tive·less \-ləs\ adjective
mo·tive·less·ly adverb
mo·ti·vic \mō-ˈtē-vik\ adjective

Examples of MOTIVE

  1. Their motive in running away was to avoid being punished.
  2. I think he's guilty of the crime. He had the motive, the means, and the opportunity.
  3. She denied that her offer to help was based on selfish motives.

Origin of MOTIVE

Middle English, from Anglo-French motif, motive, from motif, adjective, moving, from Medieval Latin motivus, from Latin motus, past participle of movēre to move
First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of MOTIVE

motive, impulse, incentive, inducement, spur, goad mean a stimulus to action. motive implies an emotion or desire operating on the will and causing it to act <a motive for the crime>. impulse suggests a driving power arising from personal temperament or constitution <buying on impulse>. incentive applies to an external influence (as an expected reward) inciting to action <a bonus was offered as an incentive>. inducement suggests a motive prompted by the deliberate enticements or allurements of another <offered a watch as an inducement to subscribe>. spur applies to a motive that stimulates the faculties or increases energy or ardor <fear was a spur to action>. goad suggests a motive that keeps one going against one's will or desire <thought insecurity a goad to worker efficiency>.

Other Psychology Terms

fetish, hypochondria, intelligence, mania, narcissism, neurosis, pathological, psychosis, schadenfreude, subliminal


adjective mo·tive \ˈmō-tiv\

: of, relating to, or causing motion

Full Definition of MOTIVE

:  of or relating to motion or the causing of motion <motive energy>
:  moving or tending to move to action

Origin of MOTIVE

Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French motif, from Medieval Latin motivus
First Known Use: 14th century


verb mo·tive \ˈmō-tiv\

Definition of MOTIVE

transitive verb
:  motivate

First Known Use of MOTIVE

MOTIVE[1] Defined for Kids


noun mo·tive \ˈmō-tiv\

Definition of MOTIVE for Kids

:  a reason for doing something



Definition of MOTIVE for Kids

:  causing motion <motive power>
Medical Dictionary


noun mo·tive \ˈmōt-iv\

Medical Definition of MOTIVE

:  something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act


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