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 motivation (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 Washington’s decision, however, was based on strategic motivation, understanding that the Continental Army desperately needed a victory after months of intense fighting with several significant defeats and no major victories. James Freeman, WSJ, "Christmases Past and Future," 24 Dec. 2020 The Lakers have the talent, experience and motivation. Mark Medina, USA TODAY, "The Queen's Gambit teaches a lesson Lakers GM can relate to when approaching new season," 23 Dec. 2020 Those who attended the Dec. 6 rally spoke about the toll distance learning was taking on their children in terms of mental health, academic achievement and general motivation to participate in school. oregonlive, "Some parents say enough is enough as Oregon’s school reopening guidelines remain among strictest in nation," 22 Dec. 2020 Kobe Bryant was a source of motivation and inspiration as the Lakers overcame the longest season in NBA history. Los Angeles Times, "Timeline of the biggest sports moments in 2020," 22 Dec. 2020 Every trip through Hades' labyrinth reveals new bits of character motivation and back story for a rogue's gallery of Greek gods, demons, and supernatural hangers-on. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2020," 22 Dec. 2020 Some residents cast doubt on the motivation of Woodward, citing disparaging comments he’s made about the mayor on social media. Brandi Addison, Dallas News, "COVID-19 complaint against Frisco leaders not wearing masks exposes divide among city’s residents," 21 Dec. 2020 Local bands and musicians managed to find inspiration and motivation during quarantine, releasing singles and albums without the ability to promote them through in-person performance. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "Listen Local: 48 new music releases from Cleveland acts in 2020," 21 Dec. 2020 Given its high focus on motivation and education, Noom is ideal for users that specifically need help with portion control, learning about healthy eating, or managing emotional eating. Sian Babish,, "Noom review: Can this program help you achieve sustainable weight loss?," 19 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for motivation

Time Traveler

The first known use of motivation was in 1873

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Statistics for motivation

Last Updated

30 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Motivation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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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 motivation (audio) \ adjective
motivationally \ -​ē How to pronounce motivation (audio) \ adverb

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