Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Something, such as the fear of punishment or the expectation of reward, that induces action or motivates effort.
  • adj. Serving to induce or motivate: an incentive bonus for high productivity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something that motivates, rouses, or encourages.
  • n. A bonus or reward, often monetary, to work harder.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Inciting; encouraging or moving; rousing to action; stimulative.
  • adj. Serving to kindle or set on fire.
  • n. That which moves or influences the mind, or operates on the passions; that which incites, or has a tendency to incite, to determination or action; that which prompts to good or ill; motive; spur.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Inciting; encouraging.
  • Setting fire; igniting; firing; incendiary.
  • n. That which moves the mind or stirs the passions; that which incites or tends to incite to action; motive; spur: as, pride is a powerful incentive.
  • n. Synonyms Impulse, etc. (see motive), stimulus, incitement, encouragement, goad.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a positive motivational influence
  • n. an additional payment (or other remuneration) to employees as a means of increasing output

Etymologies

Middle English, from Late Latin incentīvum, from neuter of incentīvus, inciting, from Latin, setting the tune, from incentus, past participle of incinere, to sound : in-, intensive pref.; see in-2 + canere, to sing; see kan- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Medieval Latin incentivus ("that strikes up or sets the tune"), from incinere ("to strike up"), from in ("in, on") + canere ("to sing"). The formation appears to have been influenced by incendere ' to set on fire'. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Another incentive is the tax and duty-free importation of raw materials to be used for book publishing.

    On the Great Book Blockade of 2009 (Updated 7 May) (with BDAP Paper) « BAHAY TALINHAGA

  • "It's some incentive, but the incentive is always to win," Baker says.

    USATODAY.com - Best All-Star change: Giving players voice

  • Any extra incentive is a plus, and when you have a whole team that wants to shove Selig's Death Wish down his throat, it can only help.

    USATODAY.com - Twins making believers out of everyone ... almost

  • The second trend we see is further acceleration of demand and adoption of what we call incentive and engagement-based programs, working to really get more aggressive engagement of individuals in their proactive health engagement.

  • The "Compensation Disclosure and Analysis" report for 2010-2011, which outlines the new "short term incentive plan" approved by the board, indicates that BT chief executive Lorne Braithwaite, a veteran real estate executive, could receive a bonus equivalent to 50 per cent of his salary, provided the organization achieves specified financial goals.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • This includes a fixed salary of $2 million a year, plus the option to participate in the company's short term incentive plan of a maximum cash bonus of an additional to $2 million a year in each of the first three full financial years of employment, provided performance targets are met.

    NEWS.com.au | Top Stories

  • Reimbursement for administering IV drugs is a percentage of the average sales price, what they call an incentive to prescribe a pricier version.

    The Seattle Times

  • The majority of the difference between 2011 and 2010 resulted from $1.5 million of increased costs related to the Company's short term incentive compensation plan, which is being accrued ratably over the full year in 2011 but which did not occur until the last four months of 2010, $0.4 million of increased salaries and wages and $1.6 million in increased stock based compensation expense.

  • Lottery officials say the bonuses, which they call incentive payments, are commonly used in private industry to help retain top staffers.

    ajc.com - News

  • "Much of what you call incentive pay is not incentive pay, it's a charade," Stiglitz said, noting that a lot of reported company earnings are "phantom profits."

    Courthouse News Service

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