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[moh-tuh-veyt] /ˈmoʊ təˌveɪt/
verb (used with object), motivated, motivating.
to provide with a motive or motives; incite; impel.
Origin of motivate
1860-65; motive + -ate1
Related forms
motivator, noun
demotivate, verb (used with object), demotivated, demotivating.
demotivator, noun
nonmotivated, adjective
remotivate, verb (used with object), remotivated, remotivating.
unmotivated, adjective
unmotivating, adjective
well-motivated, adjective
induce, move, provoke, prompt, cause. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for motivate
  • Punishment is just a totally ineffective way to motivate kids.
  • The hope is that they'll use whatever techniques they can to try to motivate me.
  • The teachers must be creative enough to motivate these kids.
  • The handrail on the escalator moves faster than the stairs to motivate the user to walk up the escalator and not just ride.
  • College is not a place made to motivate you.
  • Learning how to motivate and lead others.
  • And you know what they are going to motivate me and I'll probably do better if they're booing me everyday.
  • Government can only be used to motivate, not control our actions.
  • Money motivates people to slim down.
  • The system would motivate everyone to reduce emissions in the most cost-effective way.
British Dictionary definitions for motivate


(transitive) to give incentive to
Derived Forms
motivator, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for motivate

1863, "to stimulate toward action," from motive + -ate (2); perhaps modeled on French motiver or German motivieren. Related: Motivated; motivating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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