mo·ti·va·tion | \ˌmō-tə-ˈvā-shən \

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 \-shnəl, -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

So, unsurprisingly, the motivation for putting neighbors through five to seven miserable, grinding years of constant truck roar is money. Lauren Ritchie,, "St. Johns water district planning five years of sand-hauling for Lake Norris area residents," 2 July 2018 That motivation was a major factor in my desire to be a part of GLOW. Britney Young, Glamour, "Before GLOW, There Was Never a Character Who Truly Felt Like Me," 29 June 2018 Nationally, the underlying motivation for vehicle thefts has not been well-studied, said Frank Scafidi, director of public affairs with the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "For many in Anchorage, getting a stolen car back means cleaning up a grotesque mess left behind," 29 June 2018 And what the Supreme Court ruled here was very correct which is that if a statute gives the authority to the president then the motivation isn't really part of what their consideration should be. Fox News, "Mike Huckabee: Peter Fonda ought to be in jail," 27 June 2018 In the dissent to the High Court's ruling Tuesday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that the motivation for the ban was anti-Muslim animus, the Associated Press reported. Hasan Dudar, Detroit Free Press, "Here's what you need to know about President Trump's travel ban," 26 June 2018 While my stratagems were deliberate, the motivation behind them had been unconscious. Longreads, "The Cold War and its Fallout," 16 June 2018 Starlee Coleman, a policy adviser for the Goldwater Institute, is clear that the motivation behind the federal law is, in good measure, philosophical. The Economist, "Experimental treatments offer hope to ailing libertarians," 9 June 2018 Not only to deal with such a tragedy but to find the motivation to help others using bowling was such a beautiful thing. Gary D'amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "D'Amato: How bowling helped heal a community," 1 June 2018

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

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for motivation

The first known use of motivation was in 1873

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More Definitions for motivation



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 \

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 \ adjective
motivationally \ \ adverb

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