motive

Your reason for doing something is your motive. Your motive to go to school every day is to learn. Or maybe the thought of your parents' anger and a run-in with the truant officer is motive enough.

The word motive comes from the Latin words motivus, meaning moving, and movere, meaning to move. Think of motive as the thing that moves you to act. You often hear of motive in the context of crime––a suspect’s fingerprints may be on the murder weapon, but a detective won’t understand the crime until he understands the motive. What made the killer act?

Primary Meanings of motive

1.
nadj
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
causing or able to cause motion
2.
n
a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music
Full Definitions of motive
1

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

“he acted with the best of motives
Synonyms:
motivation, need
Types:
show 21 types...
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life
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
abience
(psychology) an urge to withdraw or avoid a situation or an object
adience
(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
hedonism
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

adj causing or able to cause motion

“a motive force”
motive power”
Synonyms:
motor
causative
producing an effect

adj impelling to action

motive pleas”
Synonyms:
motivating, motivative
causative
producing an effect
2

n a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music

Synonyms:
motif
Types:
obbligato, obligato
a persistent but subordinate motif
Type of:
idea, melodic theme, musical theme, theme
(music) melodic subject of a musical composition

n a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration

Synonyms:
motif
Type of:
design, figure, pattern
a decorative or artistic work

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