in·​cen·​tive | \ in-ˈsen-tiv How to pronounce incentive (audio) \

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 Dunkin’ says franchisees can create their own incentive programs for reusable cups., "Dunkin’ fans, prepare yourselves: The end of the foam cup is finally at hand.," 15 Nov. 2019 The state’s production incentive program offers up to a 25% tax credit for in-state productions, considered conservative by industry standards. USA TODAY, "‘Joker’ stairs, migration art, Amazon in politics: News from around our 50 states," 31 Oct. 2019 The Westfarms mall is taking advantage of a state incentive program and building a large solar project on top of sections of the mall and overhead some of the mall’s parking areas. Emily Brindley,, "Using state sustainability incentives, Westfarms mall will install solar panels over parking lot," 24 Oct. 2019 Companies can also receive five bonus points each for things like supplier incentive programs and low carbon textile sourcing as well. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "A New Report by Ranked the Climate Commitments of 45 Major Fashion Companies," 22 Oct. 2019 However, the President might find the combination of entrepreneurial incentives and racial justice to be appealing rationales. Michael Mccann,, "California's New Law Worries the NCAA, but a Federal Law Is What They Should Fear," 4 Oct. 2019 The goal laid out in the federal Healthy People 2020 plan is 23.9 percent, and some states have launched educational initiatives and incentive programs to help hospitals hit the target. Kate Morgan, Harper's BAZAAR, ""It's a Battle Scar": The Emotional Toll of C-Sections No-one Talks About," 3 Oct. 2019 Supply-siders promised that the problems were just ones of incentives and politics; once the thicket of regulations and taxes was cleared away, the American miracle would resume. Kim Phillips-fein, The New Republic, "The Failed Political Promise of Silicon Valley," 27 Sep. 2019 The incentive program is expected to save property owners and others in the county’s unincorporated area, which includes Ramona, about $15,000 per house. Ramona Sentinel, "County offers free, pre-approved housing plans," 25 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for incentive

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for incentive

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Incentive.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for incentive


How to pronounce incentive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of incentive

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


in·​cen·​tive | \ in-ˈsen-tiv How to pronounce incentive (audio) \

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).


heavy with or as if with moisture

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