mo·​ti·​va·​tion | \ ˌmō-tə-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce motivation (audio) \

Definition of motivation

1a : the act or process of motivating Some students need motivation to help them through school.
b : the condition of being motivated employees who lack motivation
2 : a motivating force, stimulus, or influence : incentive, drive the Old Testament heroes added religious motivation to the waging of war— Richard Humble The fear of failure was the motivation for his achievements.

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Other Words from motivation

motivational \ ˌmō-​tə-​ˈvā-​shnəl How to pronounce motivational (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
motivationally adverb

Examples of motivation in a Sentence

Some students need motivation to help them through school. Many people have questioned her motivations in choosing to run for office at this time.
Recent Examples on the Web Tolland came into the game with on-field and off-field motivation. Shawn Mcfarland,, "High school football: Newcomers step up as an undermanned Berlin squad edges Tolland 14-8," 13 Sep. 2019 Different strokes for different folks Inherent to all these efforts is a key recognition: players can have very different motivations for playing games. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Every game should copy Death Stranding’s “Very Easy Mode”," 13 Sep. 2019 But no one has any direct knowledge about Johnson’s motivation. Rashmee Roshan Lall, Quartz, "Only Plato can explain the confusion over Brexit in the UK’s highest courts," 13 Sep. 2019 For impressionable young troublemakers, the film must have seemed like a how-to manual for perpetrating anarchy: both The Narrator and Durden speak directly to the camera at times, explaining their techniques and motivations. N.e.g., The Economist, "“Fight Club” presaged the darker corners of the internet," 10 Sep. 2019 Those sounds helped lead rescuers to the right place on the 656-foot vessel and provided motivation. Jeff Amy And Stephen Morton,, "Coast Guard rescuers pull 4 trapped crewman alive from cargo ship that capsized off Georgia coast," 9 Sep. 2019 Outlook: After a trip to the state final in 2017 and semifinals in 2018, the Owls enter 2019 with motivation to add a championship. Pat Stoetzer,, "2019 Volleyball Preview Capsules," 6 Sep. 2019 There’s no motivation like a deadline, and several candidates are putting out climate plans ahead of today’s forum. Mark K. Matthews, Scientific American, "Five Things to Watch During CNN’s Climate Forum," 4 Sep. 2019 Fleck dove into the 2008 film 'The Dark Night' for motivation to kick off 2019, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune's Megan Ryan. Michael Shapiro,, "PJ Fleck Hands Out Batman Pez Dispensers, Wants Players to Emulate Dark Night," 3 Sep. 2019

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

1873, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for motivation

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for motivation

The first known use of motivation was in 1873

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More Definitions for motivation


How to pronounce motivation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of motivation

: the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something : the act or process of motivating someone
: the condition of being eager to act or work : the condition of being motivated
: a force or influence that causes someone to do something


mo·​ti·​va·​tion | \ ˌmōt-ə-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce motivation (audio) \

Medical Definition of motivation

1a : the act or process of motivating
b : the condition of being motivated
2 : a motivating force, stimulus, or influence (as a drive or incentive) lacks the motivation to lose weight

Other Words from motivation

motivational \ -​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl How to pronounce motivational (audio) \ adjective
motivationally \ -​ē How to pronounce motivationally (audio) \ adverb

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Comments on motivation

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to spread as a report or rumor

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