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

For the first time, the report concludes, the primary motivation for ownership of these properties is the potential for rental income. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How vacation homes went from private escape to investment opportunities," 2 Oct. 2018 Authorities believe the motivation was a domestic dispute. Fox News, "The Latest: Friends, family shocked over California rampage," 13 Sep. 2018 The other motivation behind the hack stems from PewDiePie’s ongoing battle with T-Series, a Bollywood studio and popular YouTube channel. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "First printers, now the Wall Street Journal," 17 Dec. 2018 This was also the motivation behind Comcast ’s takeover of NBC in 2011. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Justice’s AT&T Vendetta," 4 Dec. 2018 That’s good for Mexican workers, but that’s not the only motivation behind it. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The three countries signed the deal at the G20 on Friday.," 30 Nov. 2018 There’s panel discussions in college about feminism and there’s health class in high school, but there’s not a whole lot for this age group, so that was kind of the motivation behind it. Kathy Cichon,, "Steel Beam offers empowerment workshop for girls," 13 July 2018 The lack of definition has resulted in speculation that the primary motivation behind the move to Los Angeles wasn’t related to basketball. Dylan Hernandez,, "On the Lakers’ road back to greatness with LeBron, the hardest steps may still lie ahead," 12 July 2018 The Senate panel's conclusion about the motivation behind Russia's meddling stands in contrast to the findings of the House Intelligence Committee. Erin Kelly, USA TODAY, "Senate panel says Russia intervened in 2016 election to help Donald Trump, undercut Hillary Clinton," 3 July 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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Dictionary Entries near motivation







motive power

Statistics for motivation

Last Updated

14 Feb 2019

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 \ -​ē \ adverb

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Comments on motivation

What made you want to look up motivation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


excited commotion or publicity

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