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

The internet industry has a financial incentive to keep Section 230 intact. Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times, "Legal Shield for Websites Rattles Under Onslaught of Hate Speech," 6 Aug. 2019 At those prices, Tesla can't afford to put lidar on its cars, so Tesla has a powerful incentive to try to make full self-driving work without lidar. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Elon Musk: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.” Experts: Maybe not," 6 Aug. 2019 Even if tensions calm down in the days ahead, Modi still has little incentive to back off and curb his party’s ambitions. Alex Ward, Vox, "India’s risky Kashmir power grab, explained," 5 Aug. 2019 But congress has little incentive to approve early elections, since its members cannot run for re-election immediately. The Economist, "Politics this week," 1 Aug. 2019 These are only proposals, of course, dreamt up by American consulting firms like McKinsey and Boston Consulting who have no incentive to bring Saudi leaders down to Earth. James Vincent, The Verge, "Robot cage fights and flying taxis: leaked documents reveal Saudi Arabia’s plans for its next megacity," 26 July 2019 Rather, tech platforms have platform privilege — the incentive and ability to prioritize their own products and services over competitors'. Sally Hubbard For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Facebook needs more than a $5 billion fine. It needs a new business model," 25 July 2019 Witnesses said Banks and Harris forced their way in, but Kucaba noted that there was no sign the door was tampered with, and that the teens had incentive to fib since they weren’t allowed to have certain visitors when their mother wasn’t present. Megan Crepeau,, "Woman convicted in killing of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis’ grandson in spat over gym shoes," 24 July 2019 Drake, who is entering his fourth season, could also have the incentive of being in a contract year. Safid Deen,, "Will anyone step up and have a breakout season for the Dolphins in 2019? | Countdown to camp," 21 July 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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Dictionary Entries near incentive





incentive wage



Statistics for incentive

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

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 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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