Definition of motive in English:

motive

noun

  • 1A reason for doing something.

    ‘police were unable to establish a motive for his murder’
    • ‘There was little attempt to disguise the political motives behind the move.’
    • ‘Either his motive alone was sufficient reason to suspect him, or it wasn't.’
    • ‘Normally I am very careful before I ascribe such sinister motives to a government agency.’
    • ‘Of course there are other possible motives for murder besides a disagreement over business matters.’
    • ‘Richardson said that detectives were keeping an open mind about the possible motive for the triple murder.’
    • ‘More than a month on, police are no closer to finding his killer, or establishing a motive for the murder.’
    • ‘Details were released as detectives confirmed they now believe there was a sexual motive behind the girl's kidnap and murder.’
    • ‘I confess to having an inherent mistrust of the motives behind the development of GM crops and foods.’
    • ‘From this side of the Atlantic, the motives behind this action appear far more self-serving.’
    • ‘And we tell ourselves that it's all right, that for us it's different, that we have an excuse, a reason, a motive.’
    • ‘Mr Locke asks why people are questioning his motives, and the reason is that we have studied him.’
    • ‘He says he doesn't know what motives could be behind the leak.’
    • ‘There's an ulterior motive behind everything they do.’
    • ‘Detectives said yesterday that they had not yet established a motive for the double murder, but believed it might have been linked to a domestic dispute.’
    • ‘When someone offers you help, must you seek out an ulterior motive behind the gesture?’
    • ‘The key ethical and legal point is the intention - the motive behind the act.’
    • ‘Police believe robbery was the motive for the attack.’
    • ‘There is a difference between a reason and a motive.’
    • ‘In addition to your total lack of evidence, you are unable even to establish a reasonable motive.’
    • ‘Police have also been carrying out door-to-door inquiries to establish a motive for the murder.’
    • ‘Detectives are hoping to establish the motive for the murder attempt in the coming days, and will examine the possibility that it may have been drug related.’
    reason, motivation, motivating force, rationale, grounds, cause, basis, occasion, thinking, the whys and wherefores, object, purpose, intention, design
    View synonyms
  • 2A motif in art, literature, or music.

    • ‘To cultivate this process, the student should become acquainted with the motive upon which the composition is based.’
    • ‘The first movement's contours, both its main motive and its overall shape, do suggest climbing.’
    • ‘In its most common meaning, the term idea is used as a synonym for theme, melody, phrase or motive.’
    • ‘This three-note motive can subsequently be detected in almost every bar of the piece, giving it a high degree of unity.’
    • ‘The harmonic and rhythmic tension in this motive is palpable.’
    • ‘It's my favourite time of year and I wanted to evoke the coolness and crispness, especially in the opening motive.’
    • ‘This is the predominant trichord of most sets and functions as a signature motive.’
    • ‘The introduction is based on a short six-note motive that is treated canonically, first in single notes and then in double notes.’
    • ‘Then think about the grail motive as a background to the Bruckner Adagio.’
    • ‘My other quibble is that the vigorous minor-mode motive of repeated notes isn't bowed roughly enough.’
    • ‘For ten minutes, the bass methodically pounds the opening motive into the ground with rigor and exactitude.’
    motif, theme, idea, concept, subject, topic, leitmotif, trope, element
    View synonyms

adjective

  • 1attributive Producing physical or mechanical motion.

    ‘the charge of gas is the motive force for every piston stroke’
    • ‘The motive force is supplied by sodium or hydrogen ions flowing down a concentration gradient from the outside.’
    • ‘It may be powered by hand, pedal, or some other motive force such as a suitably geared lawn mower engine or the electric motor taken from a discarded washing machine.’
    • ‘As a consequence, the question of whether the new industry should continue to use gasoline as its motive fuel arose.’
    • ‘Horses continued to provide the main motive force for commercial uses of the plateau such as grazing until the recent past.’
    • ‘These flying triangles aren't ready to bear the weight of their own motive energy source.’
    • ‘The change of motion is proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the straight line in which that force is impressed.’
    • ‘With the invention of the internal combustion engine, in the late 19th century, new possibilities of motive force became available.’
    • ‘Wind turbines, also known as wind mills, use the wind as their motive force.’
    kinetic, driving, impelling, propelling, propulsive, operative, moving, motor
    View synonyms
  • 2attributive Causing or being the reason for something.

    ‘the motive principle of a writer's work’
    • ‘Looking back now, it seems to me that nothing has changed and that it was only a matter of days before profit was re-established as the system's principal motive force.’
    • ‘Feelings are important because they provide the motive force for thinking and acting.’
    • ‘Rather, it's the essential motive force for a technologically vibrant economy.’
    • ‘The driving motive force behind any country's sense of achievement and pride in its efforts must come from a focus on entrepreneurship.’
    • ‘They sought to uncover the motive force of the class struggle - the key to the real understanding of all history.’
    • ‘It serves as a kind of a triggering mechanism, a motive force of military ideology.’
    • ‘Its motive force is protection and care, but it does not give enough space to personal liberty.’
    • ‘It is not a part of the real motive forces of the revolution.’
    • ‘While putatively providing the motive force for Mundy's actions, the anger finally overreaches itself.’
    • ‘Nationalist feeling was a far more powerful motive force in China than social radicalism.’
    • ‘Fascists themselves claimed that ultranationalism was their motive force, and that the realization of the mobilized national community was their goal.’
    • ‘I think that's part of the motive force for this research, because of the great freedom that children express in their faith.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French motif (adjective used as a noun), from late Latin motivus, from movere ‘to move’.

Pronunciation

motive

/ˈməʊtɪv/