Definition of incentive in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪnˈsɛntɪv/


1A thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something: give farmers an incentive to improve their land
More example sentences
  • Childcare grants are among a range of incentives geared at encouraging more parents to run for district council seats.
  • York residents are set to be offered incentives to encourage them to recycle more of their household waste.
  • As well as the natural health benefits, the patient also gets motivation and incentives for better health.
incitement, goad, provocation;
attraction, lure, bait
informal carrot, sweetener, come-on
rare premium, douceur
1.1A payment or concession to stimulate greater output or investment: tax incentives for investing in depressed areas
More example sentences
  • The government also gave generous tax incentives for investment.
  • In addition to federal tax credits, California offered an additional state tax incentive for wind energy production.
  • To improve its on-time arrival rates, further financial incentives were provided monthly.


Late Middle English: from Latin incentivum 'something that sets the tune or incites', from incantare 'to chant or charm'.

  • Modern management gurus may not realize it, but when they advocate incentives they are invoking magic. The word is closely related to incantation (Late Middle English), ‘words said as a magic spell or charm’. The root of both is Latin incantare ‘to chant, charm’, from cantare ‘to sing’, the source also of chant (Late Middle English). In the general sense ‘a thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something’, incentive entered English in the Middle Ages, but it took until the 1940s for incentives to be offered to workers. The first incentive payments were proposed in early 1940 as a way to encourage US farmers to plant new crops. See also enchant

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Line breaks: in|cen¦tive

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