People often need motivation to do tasks they'd prefer not to do. Do you work? Your motivation is your paycheck. Lost something? Finding it may provide motivation to tidy the house.

At the root of the word motivation is the word motive, which is similarly defined as the reason for a particular action. Although the words are synonyms, when it comes to criminal behavior, people generally ask about the motives leading to the criminal acts, not the motivation behind them. Other synonyms for motivation include inspiration and enthusiasm, so people tend to associate motivation with positive acts.

Definitions of motivation

n the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior

“we did not understand his motivation
motive, need
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a motive for living
rational motive
a motive that can be defended by reasoning or logical argument
irrational motive
a motivation that is inconsistent with reason or logic
impulse, urge
an instinctive motive
ethical motive, ethics, morality, morals
motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
mental energy, psychic energy
an actuating force or factor
ground, reason
a rational motive for a belief or action
incentive, inducement, motivator
a positive motivational influence
deterrence, disincentive
a negative motivational influence
(psychology) an urge to withdraw or avoid a situation or an object
(psychology) an urge to accept or approach a situation or an object
Thanatos, death instinct, death wish
(psychoanalysis) an unconscious urge to die
irrational impulse
a strong spontaneous and irrational motivation
cacoethes, mania, passion
an irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action
itchy feet, wanderlust
very strong or irresistible impulse to travel
compulsion, obsession
an irrational motive for performing trivial or repetitive actions, even against your will
the pursuit of pleasure as a matter of ethical principle
conscience, moral sense, scruples, sense of right and wrong
motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person's thoughts and actions
Christ Within, Inner Light, Light, Light Within
a divine presence believed by Quakers to enlighten and guide the soul
incitation, incitement, provocation
something that incites or provokes; a means of arousing or stirring to action
libidinal energy
(psychoanalysis) psychic energy produced by the libido
Type of:
psychological feature
a feature of the mental life of a living organism

n the condition of being motivated

“his motivation was at a high level”
Type of:
condition, status
a state at a particular time

n the act of motivating; providing incentive

Type of:
act, deed, human action, human activity
something that people do or cause to happen

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