If your mom wants you to mow the lawn but you don't feel like it, she might offer to treat you to ice cream after as an incentive. An incentive is something that stimulates you to take action or work harder.

This noun dates back to Middle English, from Late Latin incentivum, from incentivus, "stimulating." In Latin, incentivus meant "setting the tune," from incinere, "to sing." The related English verb is incentivize. The less common verb incent was first used in the early 1980s, and has been criticized as business jargon.

Definitions of incentive
  1. noun
    a positive motivational influence
    synonyms: inducement, motivator
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    deterrence, disincentive
    a negative motivational influence
    dynamic, moral force
    an efficient incentive
    type of:
    rational motive
    a motive that can be defended by reasoning or logical argument
  2. noun
    an additional payment (or other remuneration) to employees as a means of increasing output
    synonyms: bonus
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    a prize, bonus, or award given as an inducement to purchase products, enter competitions initiated by business interests, etc.
    a bonus; something extra (especially a share of a surplus)
    sales incentive
    remuneration offered to a salesperson for exceeding some predetermined sales goal
    type of:
    a sum of money paid or a claim discharged
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