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: something (such as a need or desire) that causes a person to act
Revenge was the murderer's motive.
: a recurrent phrase or figure that is developed through the course of a musical composition
: moving or tending to move to action
Noun Their motive in running away was to avoid being punished. I think he's guilty of the crime. He had the motive, the means, and the opportunity. She denied that her offer to help was based on selfish motives.
Recent Examples on the Web
NounDecades later, questions remain about his sanity and motive. —Faith Karimi, CNN, 19 Mar. 2023 The cause of death and motive have not been released. —CBS News, 18 Mar. 2023 An anonymous tip to the police stated that the motive was likely to be anger toward religious groups. —Pietro De Cristofaro And Geir Moulson, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Mar. 2023 There [were] a lot of flow charts happening and keeping track of who is where when to make sure your motive and opportunity line up. —Samantha Highfill, EW.com, 9 Mar. 2023 Police said the motive remains under investigation. —Jasmine Hilton, Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2023 No arrests were immediately announced and a motive remains under investigation. —Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 5 Mar. 2023 Few people in American history had less time, inclination or motive to devote to fantasy or foolishness. —Fox News, 3 Mar. 2023 Ivey said a motive for the deadly violence was unclear and remains under investigation. —Jessica Schladebeck New York Daily News (tns), al, 2 Mar. 2023
AdjectiveThe suspect and motive for the crime were not immediately known, but officers were still at the scene determining whether the incident involved students at the high school, officials said. —Jordan Parker, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 Mar. 2023 Police have not yet identified a suspect or motive, but said officers recovered a shotgun at the scene. —Jenna Prestininzi, Detroit Free Press, 26 Feb. 2023 Homicide detectives are investigating the shooting and have not identified a suspect or motive, according to police. —Dan Belson, Baltimore Sun, 13 Feb. 2023 The motive and exact nature of the relationships between Syed and the victims – and the victims to one another – remained unclear. —Dallas News, 9 Aug. 2022 The cause, motive, and perpetrators of the poisonings are unknown. —Peter Weber, The Week, 2 Mar. 2023 Wilson was testifying at a hearing, outside of the earshot of the jury, to determine whether evidence of Alex Murdaugh's prior financial crimes can be introduced at his double murder trial to prove motive. —Fox News, 7 Feb. 2023 However, what differentiates kindness from exploitation is motive. —Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, 1 Feb. 2023 The lieutenant said the motive and other circumstances of the shooting remain under investigation. —David Hernandez Feb. 1, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Feb. 2023
VerbPolice are investigating the circumstances and motive around the shooting and have not announced any arrests. —Dallas News, 18 May 2022 The coming together of both aspects of his game has also led him to become more vocal on the court, both to keep himself motivated and to motive others. —oregonlive, 5 Aug. 2020 Defense attorneys tried to get those allegations blocked by the court, but U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan ruled the allegations were relevant to whether campaign money was spent illegally and spoke to motive and intent. —Arkansas Online, 2 Dec. 2019 Police did not immediately offer information as to motive or suspect description. —Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, 21 Jan. 2018 Of course, with all reports like this, speculation as to motive for such stories must be questioned. —Mark Heim, AL.com, 12 Oct. 2017 My photography is first and foremost a catalyst or reason to motive human action. —Olivier Laurent, Time, 30 June 2017 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'motive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
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