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Definition of "motive" []

  • An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action. (noun)
  • A motif in art, literature, or music. (noun)
  • Causing or able to cause motion: motive power. (adjective)
  • Impelling to action: motive pleas. (adjective)
  • Of or constituting an incitement to action. (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "motive" in a sentence
  • "The stronger motive may have determined our volition without our perceiving it; and if we desire to prove our independence of motive, by showing that we _can_ choose something different from that which we should naturally have chosen, we still cannot escape from the circle, this very desire becoming, as Mr. Hume observes, itself a _motive_."
  • "I use it here to mean a doctrinaire Marxist whose main motive is hostility to the Stalin regime."
  • "[3] The term motive is applicable in all cases where the regular operations of inanimate matter are superseded by the interference of intelligence."