English Dictionary

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motive (ˈməʊtɪv



  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: motive Your motive for doing something is your reason for doing it.What motive could he have for lying?ˈməʊtɪv NOUN
  • Arabic: حَافِزٌ
  • Brazilian Portuguese: motivo
  • Chinese: 动机
  • Croatian: motiv
  • Czech: motiv
  • Danish: motiv
  • Dutch: motief
  • European Spanish: motivo
  • Finnish: motiivi
  • French: mobileraison
  • German: Motiv
  • Greek: κίνητρο
  • Italian: motivo
  • Japanese: 動機
  • Korean: 동기장려금
  • Norwegian: motiv
  • Polish: motyw
  • Portuguese: motivo
  • Romanian: motiv motive
  • Russian: мотивпобуждение
  • Spanish: motivo
  • Swedish: motiv
  • Thai: เหตุจูงใจ
  • Turkish: sebep
  • Ukrainian: мотив
  • Vietnamese: động cơ

Example Sentences Including 'motive'

They were weirdos and perverts, whereas he was driven by a motive far more pure.
Sunny realized uneasily that she had a very good motive for murdering Pete herself.
Babson, Marian Death in Fashion
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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