Share this entry

Share this page

motive

Line breaks: mo¦tive
Pronunciation: /ˈməʊtɪv
 
/

Definition of motive in English:

noun

1A reason for doing something: police were unable to establish a motive for his murder
More example sentences
  • There's an ulterior motive behind everything they do.
  • When someone offers you help, must you seek out an ulterior motive behind the gesture?
  • The key ethical and legal point is the intention - the motive behind the act.
Synonyms
reason, motivation, motivating force, rationale, grounds, cause, basis, occasion, thinking, the whys and wherefores, object, purpose, intention, design;
incentive, inducement, impulse, incitement, influence, lure, inspiration, stimulus, stimulation, spur, goad, provocation, pressure, persuasion, consideration
2A motif in art, literature, or music.
Example sentences
  • Then think about the grail motive as a background to the Bruckner Adagio.
  • To cultivate this process, the student should become acquainted with the motive upon which the composition is based.
  • This is the predominant trichord of most sets and functions as a signature motive.
Synonyms
motif, theme, idea, concept, subject, topic, leitmotif, trope, element

adjective

[attributive] Back to top  
1Producing physical or mechanical motion: the charge of gas is the motive force for every piston stroke
More example sentences
  • The change of motion is proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the straight line in which that force is impressed.
  • With the invention of the internal combustion engine, in the late 19th century, new possibilities of motive force became available.
  • It may be powered by hand, pedal, or some other motive force such as a suitably geared lawn mower engine or the electric motor taken from a discarded washing machine.
Synonyms
2Causing or being the reason for something: the motive principle of a writer’s work
More example sentences
  • Its motive force is protection and care, but it does not give enough space to personal liberty.
  • Fascists themselves claimed that ultranationalism was their motive force, and that the realization of the mobilized national community was their goal.
  • Rather, it's the essential motive force for a technologically vibrant economy.

Origin

late Middle English: from Old French motif (adjective used as a noun), from late Latin motivus, from movere 'to move'.

Derivatives

motiveless

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • A spokesman said: ‘This totally unprovoked and motiveless assault was a terrifying ordeal for the young man who had just finished work and was making his way home.’
  • He grabbed her by the shoulder and head-butted her in a motiveless and unprovoked attack.
  • He said: ‘This was a random and motiveless attack on a defenceless man.’

motivity

2
Pronunciation: /-ˈtɪvɪti/
noun
Example sentences
  • Among the gaseous fuels, this has the best motivity factor.
  • The lost motivity is essentially not restorable otherwise than by an agency dealing with individual atoms; and the mode of dealing with the atoms to restore motivity is essentially a process of assortment, sending this way all of one kind or class, that way all of another kind or class.

Words that rhyme with motive

emotive, votive

Definition of motive in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day tenebrous
Pronunciation: ˈtɛnɪbrəs
adjective
dark; shadowy or obscure