Definition of motivation in English:



  • 1A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way:

    ‘escape can be a strong motivation for travel’
    • ‘The motivation for this rationalisation is, however, the serious fiscal crisis in the health care system.’
    • ‘Trying to calculate the motivations of others is frustrating precisely because some statements or actions are motiveless.’
    • ‘It just gave you a stronger motivation for doing what you already knew was right.’
    • ‘According to Forbes one of the main motivations is to inspire children to continue with their education.’
    • ‘When we later meet Pilate, his motivations are made clear, but the High Priest's are not.’
    • ‘But money remained one of the motivations behind the creation of the new partnership, Ms Phillips admitted.’
    • ‘It is also essential to understand the reasons and motivations behind such behaviours and cultural norms.’
    • ‘The question of whether simple life ever arose on Mars is a strong motivation for exploration.’
    • ‘What was the motivation behind you going traveling for two months in China & Vietnam a couple of years ago?’
    • ‘On the other hand, is it wrong to suspect that the ad campaign might have political motivations as well?’
    • ‘Although it can be very difficult to give up smoking, many women find pregnancy is a strong motivation.’
    • ‘We all know what side they are on, and what their motivations are.’
    • ‘The university needs to reflect on the motivations of its teachers.’
    • ‘Her main motivation was a desire to see the old mill working again.’
    • ‘It also makes good business sense to query Plato's motivations for writing the Republic.’
    • ‘I am suggesting that we are wrong to dismiss their motivations and reasoning out of hand as trivial and aberrant.’
    • ‘I've had to fire friends before because they didn't have the same motivations I had.’
    • ‘That was probably one of the main motivations in my life.’
    • ‘What could you possibly know about the motivations that caused these young people to become so angry?’
    • ‘For people who have no faith in God, fear of punishment would be a stronger motivation to do good than promise of reward.’
    • ‘Muslim women wear the hijab for a number of reasons beyond the obvious religious motivations.’
    motive, motivating force, incentive, stimulus, stimulation, inspiration, impulse, inducement, incitement, spur, goad, provocation
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    1. 1.1[mass noun] Desire or willingness to do something; enthusiasm:
      ‘keep staff up to date and maintain interest and motivation’
      • ‘I finished my intermediate, but realised that I had no motivation to continue.’
      • ‘For a short while I lived my life this way, I had no motivation to change it either.’
      • ‘All in all, the Government is the poorer for the loss of her drive, motivation and intelligence.’
      • ‘While they lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good.’
      • ‘I just hope that this enthusiasm and motivation grows, and we don't see all he has to give too soon.’
      • ‘The course will include the study of motivation, emotion and personality.’
      • ‘Socialism could only become a reality if the majority of people had the desire and motivation to fight for it.’
      • ‘What does this do to a young man of little education, to his desire and motivation?’
      • ‘The students all showed extreme motivation and interest in it.’
      • ‘While the best students will always excel and achieve, added motivation can be provided by prizes such as this.’
      • ‘An interviewer wants to gauge your enthusiasm and motivation in wanting a job there.’
      • ‘In his mind it has given him the added drive and motivation to do better.’
      • ‘Thinking like this will make your learning more personal, and this will increase your motivation.’
      • ‘Intrinsic motivation is the desire to take part in an activity for its own sake.’
      • ‘The hypothalamus is one of the most important parts of the brain, involved in many kinds of motivation, among other functions.’
      • ‘She'd let us stay because we had motivation and good humour and spirit.’
      • ‘I lost any small amount of motivation I had to study after she became ill.’
      • ‘Since the disaster it's been a constant challenge to maintain motivation and morale.’
      • ‘Leadership, strategic thinking and motivation are considered to be the key qualities of an effective CEO.’
      • ‘Other possibilities include job satisfaction, motivation and the experience of work generally.’
      enthusiasm, drive, ambition, initiative, determination, enterprise, sense of purpose
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  • 2South African A set of facts and arguments used in support of a proposal:

    ‘the following proposal and motivation is submitted for consideration’
    • ‘Another factor had to do with the presentations, even the motivations.’
    • ‘Simply write a short motivation telling us why your candidate deserves to be honoured as our Woman of the Year.’
    • ‘Maduna said anybody was free to petition the Head of State and make a proper motivation as to why they should be pardoned.’


Late 19th century: from motive, reinforced by motivate.