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 This burden of inconvenience doesn’t get nearly enough notice among those trying to explain the Raptors’ malaise, a noticeable dropoff in energy, motivation and performance throughout the young season. Bruce Jenkins,, "Warriors to host a Raptors team drained of their 2019 championship swagger," 9 Jan. 2021 The banks follow the American Society for Reproductive Medicine guidance that payment should not be a donor’s primary motivation. New York Times, "The Sperm Kings Have a Problem: Too Much Demand," 8 Jan. 2021 While many of our plans fell to the wayside in 2020, there's more hope (and motivation) in 2021 to get things done. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "The 10 best things to buy in January," 5 Jan. 2021 Democracies need both motivation and deliberation to thrive. Siva Vaidhyanathan, The New Republic, "Making Sense of the Facebook Menace," 5 Jan. 2021 But party lawmakers on Tuesday took great issue with the timing and motivation behind Republicans’ new gambit, urging the Senate instead to focus its efforts on authorizing another round of coronavirus relief. Washington Post, "Trump, Republicans seize on new stimulus debate to take aim at an old foe: Big tech," 29 Dec. 2020 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

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

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Motivation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 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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