motive, motif, incentive

A motive is a desire, need, or emotion that prompts or causes a person to act in a certain way; it is an inner urge that produces an act, but it also applies to the result of action: "Jeb's motive was to get even with those who had not helped him." "Fear was his motive in trying to escape." An incentive is something offered as a reward or prize, especially one proffered to spur competition: "Profit sharing is an incentive for every employee in this company." Motif comes from the same French word as motive, but it means (1) "a dominant idea or feature," (2) "a recurring subject or theme in an artistic work," and (3) "a distinctive form or shape in a design": "Isn't the profit motif the principal guide in every business?" "The motif of Verdi's Rigoletto differs from that of his "Il trovatore." "I like the motif of this wallpaper." Words allied in meaning to motive and incentive are stimulus, spur, inducement, incitement, impulse, goad, prod, and encouragement.

Dictionary of problem words and expressions. . 1975.

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  • incentive — See motive. See motive, motif, incentive …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • motive — See motive, motif, incentive …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • motif — See motive, motif, incentive …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • motive — I. noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French motif, motive, from motif, adjective, moving, from Medieval Latin motivus, from Latin motus, past participle of movēre to move Date: 15th century 1. something (as a need or desire) that causes… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • motive — mo•tive [[t]ˈmoʊ tɪv[/t]] n. adj. v. tived, tiv•ing 1) something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive 2) the goal or object of a person s actions: Her motive was revenge[/ex] 3) motif 1) 4) causing or… …   From formal English to slang

  • motive# — motive n 1 Motive, spring, impulse, incentive, inducement, spur, goad all denote a stimulus inciting or prompting a person to act or behave in a definite way. Motive applies chiefly to such an emotion as fear, anger, hatred, or love or to a… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • motive — mo·tive n [Anglo French motif, from Middle French motif adjective, moving, from Medieval Latin motivus, from Latin motus, past participle of movēre to move]: something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act ◇ In criminal law, motive is …   Law dictionary

  • motive — [mōt′iv] n. [ME motif < OFr motif (adj.) < ML motivus, moving < L motus, pp. of movere, to MOVE] 1. some inner drive, impulse, intention, etc. that causes a person to do something or act in a certain way; incentive; goal 2. MOTIF (sense… …   English World dictionary

  • Motive — Mo tive, n. [F. motif, LL. motivum, from motivus moving, fr. L. movere, motum, to move. See {Move}.] 1. That which moves; a mover. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. That which incites to action; anything prompting or exciting to choise, or moving… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • motive — motiveless, adj. motivelessly, adv. motivelessness, n. /moh tiv/, n., adj., v., motived, motiving. n. 1. something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive. 2. the goal or object of a person s actions: Her …   Universalium

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