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.

Keep scrolling for more

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 The payments will be for a fraction of what the petition calls for (up to $300 per month, per eligible child, for families), but as the number of signers shows, the motivation behind this petition has garnered a large degree of support. Andy Meek, BGR, "Here’s how badly millions of Americans want a new stimulus check," 2 May 2021 Rischad Whitfield gave him the necessary motivation that led to a record-setting performance on the way to the national title game. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Analyzing Trey Sermon being selected by San Francisco 49ers in the 2021 NFL Draft: Ohio State football," 1 May 2021 In this distant environment, finding the motivation to forge connections day after day can be a monumental task. Rolling Stone Culture Council, Rolling Stone, "12 Practical Ways to Forge New Connections When You’re Battling Zoom Fatigue," 28 Apr. 2021 The same motivation inspired another victory in another tense confrontation with the Suns earlier this month. Dylan Hernández Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Clippers still can’t escape bad old ways," 28 Apr. 2021 Murnane is sitting on her bed in Charleston, South Carolina, and in between sips of a lukewarm smoothie, the author is recalling the motivation behind her latest book, Know Your Endo. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, "This Book Is Making Life With Endometriosis a Whole Lot Better," 27 Apr. 2021 Doing so requires a working knowledge of basic financial concepts and the motivation to learn more as your finances become more complex over time. Ron Carson, Forbes, "6 Ways To Boost Financial Literacy And Empower Your Financial Future," 27 Apr. 2021 The same goes for the motivation behind the creation of the beautiful, sometimes somber family videos seen throughout the film. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, "Remington Richardson Of Oscar-Nominated "Time" On Having Success Despite His Circumstances And What His Parents Taught Him About Love," 25 Apr. 2021 These Afghan soldiers lacked the motivation to patrol and to risk being blown up, while the government in Kabul failed to curb corruption or inject a sense of national commitment into an overwhelmingly tribal culture. Bing West, WSJ, "In Afghanistan, a Dangerous Surrender in a Misconceived War," 22 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of motivation

1873, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about motivation

Time Traveler for motivation

Time Traveler

The first known use of motivation was in 1873

See more words from the same year

Statistics for motivation

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Motivation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!