stimulus

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
  1. noun
    any stimulating information or event; acts to arouse action
    synonyms: input, stimulant, stimulation
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    types:
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    elicitation, evocation, induction
    stimulation that calls up (draws forth) a particular class of behaviors
    kick
    the sudden stimulation provided by strong drink (or certain drugs)
    turn-on
    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:
    information
    knowledge acquired through study or experience or instruction
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