noun in·cen·tive \ in-ˈsen-tiv \
|Updated on: 13 Jul 2018

Definition of incentive

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



Examples of incentive in a Sentence

  1. The rising cost of electricity provides a strong incentive to conserve energy.

  2. The government offers special tax incentives for entrepreneurs.

  3. The company is offering a special low price as an added incentive for new customers.

Recent Examples of incentive from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

INCENTIVE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of incentive for English Language Learners

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

INCENTIVE Defined for Kids


noun in·cen·tive \ in-ˈsen-tiv \

Definition of incentive for Students

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

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a simultaneous discharge of guns

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