A stimulus causes an action or response, like the ringing of your alarm clock if you didn't sleep through it.

Stimulus is a word often used in biology — something that causes a reaction in an organ or cell, for example. In financial and economic contexts, a stimulus may be an incentive: the money you spend on your membership is a stimulus for hitting the gym. Though it can be a synonym for stimulant, they are not always used interchangeably. A stimulant is often a chemical or drug that increases activity — think caffeine. For more than one stimulus, use stimuli, not stimuluses.

Definitions of stimulus

n any stimulating information or event; acts to arouse action

input, stimulant, stimulation
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elicitation, evocation, induction
stimulation that calls up (draws forth) a particular class of behaviors
the sudden stimulation provided by strong drink (or certain drugs)
something causing excitement or stimulating interest
negative stimulation, turnoff
something causing antagonism or loss of interest
conditioned stimulus
the stimulus that is the occasion for a conditioned response
reinforcement, reinforcer, reinforcing stimulus
(psychology) a stimulus that strengthens or weakens the behavior that produced it
cue, discriminative stimulus
a stimulus that provides information about what to do
positive stimulus
a stimulus with desirable consequences
negative stimulus
a stimulus with undesirable consequences
positive reinforcer, positive reinforcing stimulus
a reinforcing stimulus that serves to increase the likelihood of the response that produces it
negative reinforcer, negative reinforcing stimulus
a reinforcing stimulus whose removal serves to decrease the likelihood of the response that produced it
bonus, fillip
anything that tends to arouse
delight, joy, pleasure
something or someone that provides a source of happiness
annoyance, bother, botheration, infliction, pain, pain in the ass, pain in the neck
something or someone that causes trouble; a source of unhappiness
aversive stimulus
any negative stimulus to which an organism will learn to make a response that avoids it
concern, headache, vexation, worry
something or someone that causes anxiety; a source of unhappiness
grief, sorrow
something that causes great unhappiness
Type of:
knowledge acquired through study or experience or instruction

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