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

  • n. An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action.
  • n. A motif in art, literature, or music.
  • adj. Causing or able to cause motion: motive power.
  • adj. Impelling to action: motive pleas.
  • adj. Of or constituting an incitement to action.
  • transitive v. To motivate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An incentive to act; a reason for doing something; anything that prompted a choice of action.
  • n. A motif; a theme or subject, especially one that is central to the work or often repeated.
  • v. To prompt or incite by a motive or motives; to move.
  • adj. Causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move; as, a motive argument; motive power.
  • adj. Relating to motion and/or to its cause

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move.
  • n. That which moves; a mover.
  • n. That which incites to action; anything prompting or exciting to choise, or moving the will; cause; reason; inducement; object; motivation{2}.
  • n. The theme or subject; a leading phrase or passage which is reproduced and varied through the course of a comor a movement; a short figure, or melodic germ, out of which a whole movement is develpoed. See also Leading motive, under Leading.
  • n. That which produces conception, invention, or creation in the mind of the artist in undertaking his subject; the guiding or controlling idea manifested in a work of art, or any part of one.
  • transitive v. To prompt or incite by a motive or motives; to move.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Causing motion; having power to move some one or something; tending to produce motion.
  • Moving or impelling force in a figurative sense.
  • That which moves, as a locomotive; in railroading, the locomotives collectively of a railroad: as, the super-intendent of the motive power.
  • n. A mental state or force which induces an act of volition; a determining impulse: specifically, a desire for something; a gratification contemplated as the final cause of a certain action of the one desiring it.
  • n. The design or object one has in any action; intention; purpose; the ideal object of desire.
  • n. One who or that which is the cause of something; an originator.
  • n. Movement.
  • n. Prevailing design.
  • n. . Motion; proposition.
  • n. Synonyms Motive, Reason, Inducement, Incentive, Impulse, consideration, prompting, stimulus. The differences among the first five of these words are suggested by the derivations. A motive is that which moves one to act, addressing the will, as though directly, and determining the choice; it is the common philosophical term, and may be collective: as, the whole field of motive. A reason is that which addresses the rational nature by way of argument for either belief or choice. An inducement leads one on by his desire for good: as, to hold out an additional inducement. An incentive urges one on like martial music. An impulse drives one on, but is transitory.
  • To act on as a motive, or with the force of a motive; prompt; instigate.

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

  • n. the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior
  • n. a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music
  • adj. causing or able to cause motion
  • n. a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration
  • adj. impelling to action


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

Middle English motif, motive, from Old French motif, from Late Latin mōtīvus, of motion, from Latin mōtus, past participle of movēre, to move; see meuə- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Verb: From Medieval Latin motivus ("serving to move, motive"), from Latin motus, past participle of movere ("to move").


  • The stronger motive may have determined our volition without our perceiving it; and if we desire to prove our independence of motive, by showing that we _can_ choose something different from that which we should naturally have chosen, we still cannot escape from the circle, this very desire becoming, as Mr. Hume observes, itself a _motive_.

    Short Studies on Great Subjects

  • I use it here to mean a doctrinaire Marxist whose main motive is hostility to the Stalin regime.

    Notes on Nationalism

  • [3] The term motive is applicable in all cases where the regular operations of inanimate matter are superseded by the interference of intelligence.

    Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

  • MBSS: DB, when people criticize israel for violating international law i would suspect the motive is anger over israel violating international law. if they happen to think that the existence of is israel is an injustice then they say so, as ido.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Greenwald and Gaza

  • The presence of what we call motive is something that comes and goes intermittently and which may or may not be present from the first awakening of consciousness.

    The Complex Vision

  • That power of the mind which we call motive, differeth from the power motive of the body. for the power motive of the body is that by which it moveth other bodies, which we call strength: but the power motive of the mind, is that by which the mind giveth animal motion to that body wherein it existeth; the acts hereof are our affections and passions, of which I am now to speak.

    The Elements of Law Natural and Politic

  • The only people that the "motive" is relevant to is the police when looking for a suspect.


  • I do reserve the right to permanently delete things — particularly when they have little merit and when they are posted by people whose main motive is evidently to undermine my authority and therefore, as far as I’m concerned, damage the project.

    The Hive

  • New partners I don´t need unless the motive is purely acquisitive in nature and impersonal.


  • So the more likely motive is trying to actually prevent that from happening, which you can do by injecting the idea early that they will, they are going to, and by extension, they did.

    Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Search and destroy


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.