motive

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See also: Motive and motivé

English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Middle English motif, from Anglo-Norman motif, Middle French motif, and their source, Late Latin motivum (motive, moving cause), neuter of motivus (serving to move).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

motive (plural motives)

  1. (obsolete) An idea or communication that makes one want to act, especially from spiritual sources; a divine prompting. [14th-17th c.]
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: What It Is. With All the Kindes, Cavses, Symptomes, Prognosticks, and Seuerall Cvres of It. In Three Maine Partitions, with Their Seuerall Sections, Members, and Svbsections. Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically Opened and Cut Up, by Democritvs Iunior, with a Satyricall Preface, Conducing to the Following Discourse, 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):
      , III.2.1.ii:
      there's something in a woman beyond all human delight; a magnetic virtue, a charming quality, an occult and powerful motive.
  2. An incentive to act in a particular way; a reason or emotion that makes one want to do something; anything that prompts a choice of action. [from 15th c.]
    • 1947, Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano:
      Many of them at first seemed kind to him, but it turned out their motives were not entirely altruistic.
  3. (obsolete, rare) A limb or other bodily organ that can move. [15th-17th c.]
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  4. (law) Something which causes someone to want to commit a crime; a reason for criminal behaviour. [from 18th c.]
    What would his motive be for burning down the cottage?
    No-one could understand why she had hidden the shovel; her motives were obscure at best.
    • 1931, Francis Beeding, “10/6”, in Death Walks in Eastrepps:
      “Why should Eldridge commit murder? [] There was only one possible motive—namely, he wished to avoid detection as James Selby of Anaconda Ltd. […]”
  5. (architecture, fine arts) A motif. [from 19th c.]
  6. (music) A motif; a theme or subject, especially one that is central to the work or often repeated. [from 19th c.]
    If you listen carefully, you can hear the flutes mimicking the cello motive.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Verb[edit]

motive (third-person singular simple present motives, present participle motiving, simple past and past participle motived)

  1. (transitive) To prompt or incite by a motive or motives; to move.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Adjective[edit]

motive (not comparable)

  1. Causing motion; having power to move, or tending to move
    a motive argument
    motive power
    • 1658, Sir Thomas Browne, The Garden of Cyrus, Folio Society 2007, p. 195:
      In the motive parts of animals may be discovered mutuall proportions; not only in those of Quadrupeds, but in the thigh-bone, legge, foot-bone, and claws of Birds.
  2. Relating to motion and/or to its cause

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


French[edit]

Verb[edit]

motive

  1. first-person singular present indicative of motiver
  2. third-person singular present indicative of motiver
  3. first-person singular present subjunctive of motiver
  4. third-person singular present subjunctive of motiver
  5. second-person singular imperative of motiver

Latin[edit]

Adjective[edit]

mōtive

  1. vocative masculine singular of mōtivus

Portuguese[edit]

Verb[edit]

motive

  1. first-person singular present subjunctive of motivar
  2. third-person singular present subjunctive of motivar
  3. first-person singular imperative of motivar
  4. third-person singular imperative of motivar

Romanian[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

motive

  1. plural of motiv

Serbo-Croatian[edit]

Noun[edit]

motive (Cyrillic spelling мотиве)

  1. accusative plural of motiv
  2. vocative singular of motiv

Spanish[edit]

Verb[edit]

motive

  1. Formal second-person singular (usted) imperative form of motivar.
  2. First-person singular (yo) present subjunctive form of motivar.
  3. Formal second-person singular (usted) present subjunctive form of motivar.
  4. Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) present subjunctive form of motivar.