1

motive

noun mo·tive \ ˈmō-tiv , sense 2 is also mō-ˈtēv \
Updated on: 9 Nov 2017

Definition of motive

1 :something (such as a need or desire) that causes a person to act
  • Revenge was the murderer's motive.
2 :a recurrent phrase or figure that is developed through the course of a musical composition
3 :motif
  • the composition's recurring flute motive

motiveless

play \-ləs\ adjective

motivelessly

adverb

motivic

play \mō-ˈtē-vik\ adjective

Examples of motive in a Sentence

  1. Their motive in running away was to avoid being punished.

  2. I think he's guilty of the crime. He had the motive, the means, and the opportunity.

  3. She denied that her offer to help was based on selfish motives.

Recent Examples of motive from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'motive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of motive

Middle English, from Anglo-French motif, motive, from motif, adjective, moving, from Medieval Latin motivus, from Latin motus, past participle of movēre to move

Synonym Discussion of motive

motive, impulse, incentive, inducement, spur, goad mean a stimulus to action. motive implies an emotion or desire operating on the will and causing it to act.
    • a motive for the crime
impulse suggests a driving power arising from personal temperament or constitution.
    • buying on impulse
incentive applies to an external influence (such as an expected reward) inciting to action.
    • a bonus was offered as an incentive
inducement suggests a motive prompted by the deliberate enticements or allurements of another.
    • offered a watch as an inducement to subscribe
spur applies to a motive that stimulates the faculties or increases energy or ardor.
    • fear was a spur to action
goad suggests a motive that keeps one going against one's will or desire.
    • thought insecurity a goad to worker efficiency

2

motive

adjective mo·tive \ ˈmō-tiv \

Definition of motive

1 :of or relating to motion or the causing of motion
  • motive energy
2 :moving or tending to move to action

Recent Examples of motive from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'motive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of motive

Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French motif, from Medieval Latin motivus


3

motive

verb mo·tive \ ˈmō-tiv \

Definition of motive

motived; motiving
transitive verb

Recent Examples of motive from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'motive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of motive

1657



MOTIVE Defined for English Language Learners

motive

noun

Definition of motive for English Language Learners

  • : a reason for doing something


motive

adjective

Definition of motive for English Language Learners

  • : of, relating to, or causing motion


MOTIVE Defined for Kids

1

motive

noun mo·tive \ ˈmō-tiv \

Definition of motive for Students

:a reason for doing something

2

motive

adjective

Definition of motive for Students

:causing motion
  • motive power

Medical Dictionary

motive

noun mo·tive \ ˈmōt-iv \

medical Definition of motive

:something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act

Law Dictionary

motive

noun mo·tive

legal Definition of motive

:something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act
Note: Motive is distinguished from intent or mens rea. Although motive is not an element of a crime, evidence of motive can be introduced to help establish intent.

Origin and Etymology of motive

Anglo-French motif, from Middle French motif adjective, moving, from Medieval Latin motivus, from Latin motus, past participle of movēre to move



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