motive

[moh-tiv]
noun
1.
something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive.
2.
the goal or object of a person's actions: Her motive was revenge.
3.
(in art, literature, and music) a motif.
adjective
4.
causing, or tending to cause, motion.
5.
pertaining to motion.
6.
prompting to action.
7.
constituting a motive or motives.
verb (used with object), motived, motiving.
8.

Origin:
1325–75; (adj.) Middle English (< Middle French motif) < Medieval Latin mōtīvus serving to move, equivalent to Latin mōt(us) (past participle of movēre to move) + -īvus -ive; (noun) Middle English (< Middle French motif) < Medieval Latin mōtīvum, noun use of neuter of mōtīvus

motiveless, adjective
motivelessly, adverb
motivelessness, noun
well-motived, adjective


1. motivation, incitement, stimulus, spur; influence, occasion, ground, cause. Motive, incentive, inducement apply to whatever moves one to action. Motive is, literally, something that moves a person; an inducement something that leads a person on; an incentive something that inspires a person. Motive is applied mainly to an inner urge that moves or prompts a person to action, though it may also apply to a contemplated result, the desire for which moves the person: His motive was a wish to be helpful. Inducement is never applied to an inner urge, and seldom to a goal: The pleasure of wielding authority may be an inducement to get ahead. It is used mainly of opportunities offered by the acceptance of certain conditions, whether these are offered by a second person or by the factors of the situation: The salary offered me was a great inducement. Incentive was once used of anything inspiring or stimulating the emotions or imagination: incentives to piety; it has retained of this its emotional connotations, but (rather like inducement ) is today applied only to something offered as a reward, and offered particularly to stimulate competitive activity: to create incentives for higher achievement. 2. See reason.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
motive (ˈməʊtɪv)
 
n
1.  the reason for a certain course of action, whether conscious or unconscious
2.  a variant of motif
 
adj
3.  of or causing motion or action: a motive force
4.  of or acting as a motive; motivating
 
vb
5.  to motivate
 
[C14: from Old French motif, from Late Latin mōtīvus (adj) moving, from Latin mōtus, past participle of movēre to move]
 
'motiveless
 
adj
 
'motivelessly
 
adv
 
'motivelessness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

motive
mid-14c., "something brought forward," from O.Fr. motif (n.), from motif (fem. motive), adj., "moving," from M.L. motivus "moving, impelling," from L. motus, pp. of movere "to move" (see move). Meaning "that which inwardly moves a person to behave a certain way" is from early 15c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

motive mo·tive (mō'tĭv)
n.
An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action. Also called learned drive. adj.
Causing or able to cause motion.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
The crimes fit a pattern, the motives are generally clear.
There's usually a faction that distrusts the government and its motives.
Whether their motives are missionary or mercenary, all are ultimately sucked
  into the vortex of an epic-and tragic-struggle.
Ask students to compile a list of motives for building a dam.
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