English Dictionary

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motive (ˈməʊtɪv Pronunciation for motive



  1. the reason for a certain course of action, whether conscious or unconscious
  2. a variant of motif (sense 2)


  1. of or causing motion or action   ⇒ a motive force
  2. of or acting as a motive; motivating

verb (transitive)

  1. to motivate

Derived Forms

ˈmotiveless adjective
ˈmotivelessly adverb
ˈmotivelessness noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French motif, from Late Latin mōtīvus (adj) moving, from Latin mōtus, past participle of movēre to move


View thesaurus entry
= moving, driving, motivating, operative, activating, impelling

Translations for 'motive'

  • British English: motivePronunciation for motive Your motive for doing something is your reason for doing it.What motive could he have for lying?ˈməʊtɪv NOUN
  • Arabic: حَافِزٌPronunciation for حَافِزٌ
  • Brazilian Portuguese: motivoPronunciation for motivo
  • Chinese: 动机Pronunciation for 动机
  • Croatian: motivPronunciation for motiv
  • Czech: motivPronunciation for motiv
  • Danish: motivPronunciation for motiv
  • Dutch: motiefPronunciation for motief
  • European Spanish: motivoPronunciation for motivo
  • Finnish: motiiviPronunciation for motiivi
  • French: mobilePronunciation for mobileraison
  • German: MotivPronunciation for Motiv
  • Greek: κίνητροPronunciation for κίνητρο
  • Italian: motivoPronunciation for motivo
  • Japanese: 動機Pronunciation for 動機
  • Korean: 동기Pronunciation for 동기장려금
  • Norwegian: motivPronunciation for motiv
  • Polish: motywPronunciation for motyw
  • Portuguese: motivoPronunciation for motivo
  • Romanian: motiv motive
  • Russian: мотивPronunciation for мотивпобуждение
  • Spanish: motivoPronunciation for motivo
  • Swedish: motivPronunciation for motiv
  • Thai: เหตุจูงใจPronunciation for เหตุจูงใจ
  • Turkish: sebepPronunciation for sebep
  • Ukrainian: мотив
  • Vietnamese: động cơPronunciation for động cơ

Example Sentences Including 'motive'

A spokesman was unable to comment on the likely motive for the attack or whether it is thought the gunman knew his victims.
Liverpool Daily Post and Echo (2004)
An alternative motive for undertaking routine medical examinations, may be financial gain!
Petch, Dr Michael BMA Family Doctor Guide - Heart Disease
Except that in this instance the ruthlessness is executed under the guise of higher motive.
Irish Times (2002)
He dismissed suspicions that there might be "some ulterior motive " behind the incentives.
Irish Times (2002)
She also defends the profit motive in scientific publishing.
New Scientist (2003)
Sunny realized uneasily that she had a very good motive for murdering Pete herself.
Babson, Marian Death in Fashion
Supt Cooper said: "We do not yet know the motive for this incident.
Liverpool Daily Post and Echo (2004)
They were weirdos and perverts, whereas he was driven by a motive far more pure.
Thus, in the complex evolution of a craft's progression, serious terrorism would now be based on a for-profit motive.
Terman, Douglas Cormorant


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