Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of motive
Meaning of motive by Wiktionary Dictionary



    Verb: From Medieval Latin motivus ( “serving to move, motive” ), from Latin motus, past participle of movere ( “to move” ) .

    Noun: From Middle English motif, from Old French motif, from Medieval Latin motivum ( “a motive, moving cause” ), neuter of motivus ( “serving to move” ): see verb .


    • ( UK ) IPA: /ˈməʊtɪv/
    • ( US ) IPA: /ˈmoʊtɪv/


    motive ( plural: motives )

    1. An incentive to act; a reason for doing something; anything that prompted a choice of action .
      What would his motive be for burning down the cottage?
      No-one could understand why she had hidden the shovel; her motives were obscure at best .
    2. A motif; a theme or subject, especially one that is central to the work or often repeated .
      If you listen carefully, you can hear the flutes mimicking the cello motive .



    motive ( not comparable )

    1. Causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move; as, a motive argument; motive power.
    2. Relating to motion and/or to its cause

    External links

    • motive in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
    • motive in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
    • motive at OneLook Dictionary Search


Explanation of motive by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. impelling to action

    2. motive pleas
    3. causing or able to cause motion

    4. a motive force
      motive power
    1. the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal

    2. he acted with the best of motives
    3. a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration

    4. a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music