in·cen·tive | \ in-ˈsen-tiv \

Definition of incentive 

: something that incites or has a tendency to incite to determination or action

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Other words from incentive

incentive adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for incentive

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 (such 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

Examples of incentive in a Sentence

The rising cost of electricity provides a strong incentive to conserve energy. The government offers special tax incentives for entrepreneurs. The company is offering a special low price as an added incentive for new customers.
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Recent Examples on the Web

However, our picks and opinions are independent from USA Today’s newsroom and any business incentives. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "All the other stores having sales for Amazon Prime Day," 13 July 2018 The organization will use the funds for new Mobile Market locations, additional promotions and incentives, and more products requested by older residents. Morgan Hughes,, "Curing the flu, wedding dresses for soldiers, and food for the elderly," 13 July 2018 Essentially, soft power is the ability to attract and influence via means other than hard power, which is typically defined as military might and economic incentives or sanctions. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Under President Trump, the U.S.'s 'Soft Power' Is Waning," 13 July 2018 The shutdown also will compromise a range of incentive programs that have emerged over the past decade to improve low-income shoppers' access to healthful food. Jane Black And Leah Douglas,, "Some food stamp recipients may soon lose access to farmers market benefits," 12 July 2018 Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives. Elana Lyn Gross,, "15 things you should never put in the washing machine," 5 July 2018 Up until now, the government has largely relied on incentive programs to encourage people to sort their waste. Michael Holtz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Beijing gets tough on trash," 5 July 2018 The project will probably make use of government incentive programs, Harig said. Richard Webner, San Antonio Express-News, "Foundation, developer may rehab East Side’s historic Sutton complex," 29 June 2018 Harry Moberly, a longtime Democratic lawmaker from Richmond, sponsored the 2002 bill that led to the incentive program. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Should JCPS pay teachers more if they work in low-performing schools?," 23 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incentive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of incentive

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incentive

Middle English, from Late Latin incentivum, from neuter of incentivus stimulating, from Latin, setting the tune, from incentus, past participle of incinere to play (a tune), from in- + canere to sing — more at chant

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Dictionary Entries near incentive





incentive wage



Statistics for incentive

Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incentive

The first known use of incentive was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for incentive



English Language Learners Definition of incentive

: something that encourages a person to do something or to work harder


in·cen·tive | \ in-ˈsen-tiv \

Kids Definition of incentive

: something that makes a person try or work hard or harder Longer recess was an incentive to finish our work.

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Comments on incentive

What made you want to look up incentive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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