mo·​ti·​vate | \ ˈmō-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce motivate (audio) \
motivated; motivating

Definition of motivate

transitive verb

: to provide with a motive : impel questions that excite and motivate youth She was motivated by a desire to help children.

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Other Words from motivate

motivative \ ˈmō-​tə-​ˌvā-​tiv How to pronounce motivative (audio) \ adjective

Examples of motivate in a Sentence

No one knows what motivated him to act in such a violent way.
Recent Examples on the Web And their vocal commitment to Israel has often been cited as a motivating factor in his full-throated support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. NBC News, "Israel considers shutting down evangelical Christian God TV's channel," 13 May 2020 Teachers working ten to twelve hours a day from their homes are helping kids stay active, focused, motivated, engaged, and connected, despite the lockdown. Lorraine Allen, Good Housekeeping, "Teachers Are the Glue Keeping Many Families Together During the Coronavirus Pandemic," 4 May 2020 Unlike those cars, however, this two-plus-two coupe is motivated by a monstrous powerplant, a twin-turbocharged V-8 that displaces 3.8 liters. Car and Driver, "How We'd Spec It: 2020 Ferrari Roma," 25 Apr. 2020 Fairfax insisted his 2000 encounter with Wilson and 2004 encounter with Tyson were consensual and that the claims were politically motivated. Ashley Cullins, The Hollywood Reporter, "CBS Beats Defamation Suit From Virginia Lt. Gov. Alleging "Political Hit Job"," 11 Feb. 2020 Featuring performances, speeches and artistic displays, MLK NOW is designed to inspire people of all ages and incomes to create tangible changes in their communities that are motivated by love, compassion and kindness. Keyaira Boone, Essence, "J. Cole, Naturi Naughton, Ryan Coogler And More To Attend MLK NOW," 20 Jan. 2020 There was also a general sense that the registry serving so many nonprofits should itself be a mission driven, not profit motivated, organization. Klint Finley, Wired, "The Web's .Org Domain Is Still Run by a Nonprofit—for Now," 1 May 2020 The practice of frequent visits was not motivated by financial incentives; most practices charge a flat fee per pregnancy regardless of number of visits. Emily Goligoski, New York Times, "Prenatal Care May Look Very Different After Coronavirus," 28 Apr. 2020 Record-breaking former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has a unique insight into staying engaged and motivated while in isolation. Fox News, "Astronaut Scott Kelly offers coronavirus lockdown tips for keeping kids motivated to study," 25 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'motivate.' 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 motivate

1836, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for motivate

Time Traveler

The first known use of motivate was in 1836

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Statistics for motivate

Last Updated

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Motivate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for motivate


How to pronounce motivate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of motivate

: to give (someone) a reason for doing something
: to be a reason for (something)


mo·​ti·​vate | \ ˈmō-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce motivate (audio) \
motivated; motivating

Kids Definition of motivate

: to give or be a reason for doing something Prizes motivated him to join the contest.
mo·​ti·​vate | \ ˈmōt-ə-ˌvāt How to pronounce motivate (audio) \
motivated; motivating

Medical Definition of motivate

: to provide with a motive or serve as a motive for motivate patients to change unhealthy lifestyles

Other Words from motivate

motivative \ -​ˌvāt-​iv How to pronounce motivative (audio) \ adjective

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