What does MOTIVE mean?

Definitions for MOTIVE
ˈmoʊ tɪvmo·tive

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word MOTIVE.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. motivation, motive, neednoun

    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

    "we did not understand his motivation"; "he acted with the best of motives"

  2. motif, motivenoun

    a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music

  3. motif, motiveadjective

    a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration

  4. motive(a), motoradjective

    causing or able to cause motion

    "a motive force"; "motive power"; "motor energy"

  5. motivative(a), motive(a), motivatingadjective

    impelling to action

    "it may well be that ethical language has primarily a motivative function"- Arthur Pap; "motive pleas"; "motivating arguments"


  1. motivenoun

    An incentive to act; a reason for doing something; anything that prompted a choice of action.

  2. motivenoun

    A motif; a theme or subject, especially one that is central to the work or often repeated.

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

  3. motiveverb

    To prompt or incite by a motive or motives; to move.

  4. motiveadjective

    Causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move; as, a motive argument; motive power.

  5. motiveadjective

    Relating to motion and/or to its cause

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Motiveadjective

    Etymology: motivus, Latin.

    Shall every motive argument used in such kind of conferences be made a rule for others still to conclude the like by, concerning all things of like nature, when as probable inducements may lead them to the contrary? Richard Hooker, b. iv.

    The nerves serve for the conveyance of the motive faculty from the brain; the ligatures for the strengthening of them, that they may not flag in motion. John Wilkins.

    We ask you whence does motive vigour flow? Richard Blackmore.

    That fancy is easily disproved from the motive power of souls embodied, and the gradual increase of men and animals. Richard Bentley.

  2. Motivenoun

    Etymology: motis, French.

    Hereof we have no commandment, either in nature or scripture, which doth exact them at our hands; yet those motives there are in both, which draw most effectually our minds unto them. Richard Hooker, b. ii.

    Why in that rawness left you wife and children,
    Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,
    Without leave-taking? William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    What can be a stronger motive to a firm trust on our Maker, than the giving us his son to suffer for us. Addison.

    The motive for continuing in the same state is only the present satisfaction in it; the motive to change is always some uneasiness. John Locke.

    Heaven brought me up to be my daughter’s dower;
    As it hath fated her to be my motive
    And helper to a husband. William Shakespeare, All’s well that ends well.

    Her wanton spirits look out
    At every joint, and motive of her body. William Shakespeare.


  1. motive

    A motive is a reason or an underlying driving force that prompts, provokes, or encourages a person to act or behave in a certain manner. It is often linked to a person's needs, desires, wishes or goals that often determine their actions or behavior. Motive can also refer to a theme or central idea in a work of art, literature or music.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Motivenoun

    that which moves; a mover

  2. Motivenoun

    that which incites to action; anything prompting or exciting to choise, or moving the will; cause; reason; inducement; object

  3. Motivenoun

    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

  4. Motivenoun

    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

  5. Motiveadjective

    causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move; as, a motive argument; motive power

  6. Motiveverb

    to prompt or incite by a motive or motives; to move


  1. Motive

    A motive, in law, especially criminal law, is the cause that moves people to induce a certain action. Motive, in itself, is not an element of any given crime; however, the legal system typically allows motive to be proven in order to make plausible the accused's reasons for committing a crime, at least when those motives may be obscure or hard to identify with. The law technically distinguishes between motive and intent. "Intent" in criminal law is synonymous with mens rea, which means no more than the specific mental purpose to perform a deed that is forbidden by a criminal statute, or the reckless disregard of whether the law will be violated. "Motive" describes instead the reasons in the accused's background and station in life that are supposed to have induced the crime. Motive is particularly important in prosecutions for homicide. First, murder is so drastic a crime that most people recoil from the thought of being able to do it; proof of motive explains why the accused did so desperate an act. Moreover, most common law jurisdictions have statutes that provide for degrees of homicide, based in part on the accused's mental state. The lesser offence of voluntary manslaughter, for example, traditionally required that the accused knowingly and voluntarily kill the victim; in addition, it must be shown that the killing took place in the "sudden heat of passion," an excess of rage or anger coming from a contemporary provocation, which clouded the accused's judgment. Homicides motivated by such factors are a lesser offense than murder "in cold blood."

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Motive

    mō′tiv, adj. causing motion: having power to cause motion.—n. that which moves or excites to action: inducement: reason.—v.t. to act on as a motive, instigate.—v.t. Mō′tivāte, to act on as a motive, induce.—n. Motivā′tion.—adj. Mōtiveless.—ns. Mō′tivelessness; Mō′tive-power, or -force, the force acting upon a body so as to cause it to move; Motiv′ity, power of producing motion: the quality of being influenced by motion. [Fr., through Low L., from movēre, mōtum to move.]

Suggested Resources

  1. motive

    Song lyrics by motive -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by motive on the Lyrics.com website.

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British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'MOTIVE' in Nouns Frequency: #1796

How to pronounce MOTIVE?

How to say MOTIVE in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of MOTIVE in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of MOTIVE in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of MOTIVE in a Sentence

  1. Nebojsa Stefanovic:

    Jealousy could be a motive, he was a quiet man; he had no criminal record.

  2. Joe Concha:

    Because Joe Biden’s ban comes from good, decent place in an effort to save lives, while Trump just did it as an excuse to ban people from coming here, as utterly sophomoric and ridiculous as those arguments are in applying motive, there are actually enough viewers and readers out there willing to believe it.

  3. Mark Ostrowski:

    You can really simply break it down into two separate things. One is to just create disruption, whether thats slowing somebodys service or jumping on a meeting. The second things is money. If someone is having an aboard meeting for the first time over Zoom... thats a different motive.

  4. Bernard Mandeville:

    Because impudence is a vice, it does not follow that modesty is a virtue; it is built upon shame, a passion in our nature, and may be either good or bad according to the actions performed from that motive.

  5. Adam Schiff:

    If Adam Schiff have any question about whether the motive was mixed or not mixed, ask Ambassador Bolton.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for MOTIVE

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"MOTIVE." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 14 Jul 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/MOTIVE>.

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