Motive definition

mōtĭv
Some inner drive, impulse, intention, etc. that causes a person to do something or act in a certain way; incentive; goal.
noun
25
2
An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action.
noun
18
5
A motif in art, literature, or music.
noun
13
4
(archaic) Of, or having the nature of, a motive or motives.
adjective
11
2
Causing an action.

Motive pleas.

adjective
8
2
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Causing or able to cause motion.

Motive power.

adjective
4
2
Of, causing, or tending to cause motion.
adjective
4
2
An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action.
noun
4
2
Motive is defined as a reason for doing something.

An example of a motive is the reason for committing a crime.

noun
2
0
Moving, of motion.

Automotive.

affix
3
2
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An incentive to act in a particular way; a reason or emotion that makes one want to do something; anything that prompts a choice of action. [from 15th c.]
noun
1
0
(law) Something which causes someone to want to commit a crime; a reason for criminal behaviour. [from 18th c.]

What would his motive be for burning down the cottage?

No-one could understand why she had hidden the shovel; her motives were obscure at best.

noun
1
0
(architecture, fine arts) A motif. [from 19th c.]
noun
0
0
(music) A motif; a theme or subject, especially one that is central to the work or often repeated. [from 19th c.]

If you listen carefully, you can hear the flutes mimicking the cello motive.

noun
0
0
To prompt or incite by a motive or motives; to move.
verb
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0
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Causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move; as, a motive argument; motive power.
adjective
0
0
Relating to motion and/or to its cause.
adjective
0
0
noun
2
3
To supply a motive for; motivate.
verb
2
3
The definition of motive is causing action.

An example of motive used as an adjective is the phrase a "motive idea" which means an idea that inspires someone to act.

adjective
0
1
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
motive
Plural:
motives

Origin of motive

  • From Webster's New World College Dictionary, 5th Edition

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

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Middle English motif, from Anglo-Norman motif, Middle French motif, and their source, Late Latin motivum (“motive, moving cause"), neuter of motivus (“serving to move").

    From Wiktionary