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 Compared with oil and gas, there is also less of a direct incentive for going public. Jinjoo Lee, WSJ, "SPACs Will Have a Tough Time Cleaning Up on Renewables," 21 Oct. 2020 The breakup is likely to temporarily eliminate the incentive for interference from OSs to applications and vice versa. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "The Capital Note: What to Expect from China’s 19th Party Congress," 21 Oct. 2020 Pelosi, as the most powerful Democrat in the country with de facto veto power over any rescue, has the exact opposite incentive. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "The Constitution is strangling America," 20 Oct. 2020 So far the idea has been slow to catch on, as falling fuel prices and logistical barriers have crimped the economic incentive to reuse waste heat. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "Data centers are wasting heat that could warm homes and businesses," 20 Oct. 2020 More than 20,000 affordable apartments have used this tax incentive in Michigan, according to MSHDA. Nushrat Rahman, Detroit Free Press, "5 Detroit housing projects selected for federal low-income housing subsidy," 19 Oct. 2020 Coming off a thrilling last-minute victory over FIU, Middle Tennessee will have plenty of incentive. Mark Heim |, al, "North Texas-Middle Tennessee live stream (10/17): How to watch college football online, TV, time," 17 Oct. 2020 Officials have pointed out that the incentive is earned. Steve Lord,, "Aurora approves sales tax rebate agreement for Pacifica Square," 16 Oct. 2020 Cut off the financial incentive to launch ransomware attacks, and hackers will move onto a different tactic. Brian Fung, CNN, "Ransomware is the latest threat to the 2020 election. Here are the facts," 15 Oct. 2020

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

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incentive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

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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

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