motive#


motive#
motive n
1 Motive, spring, impulse, incentive, inducement, spur, goad all denote a stimulus inciting or prompting a person to act or behave in a definite way.
Motive applies chiefly to such an emotion as fear, anger, hatred, or love or to a desire (as for fame, wealth, knowledge, supremacy, or revenge) or to such a physical appetite as hunger or sexual desire which operates on the will and definitely moves it to activity
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always seeking the motive of everyone's speech or behavior— Brownell

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whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motivesWilde

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I could slay no living thing except from motives of hunger— Hudson

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even where some piece of knowledge is uninteresting in itself, a man can force himself to acquire it if he has an adequate motive for doing so— Russell

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Spring, often as the plural springs, is used in place of motive without much difference in meaning; however, it may refer to the underlying or basic motive which is often not fully recognized even by the person affected and is especially hidden from all but the most penetrating observers
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it is difficult ... to come at the true springs of action— Forrest

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the love of gold was the sordid spring of the most brilliant enterprises of the republic— Merivale

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laying open to his view the springs of action in both parties— Peacock

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Impulse need not imply, as motive and spring regularly imply, actual performance of an act or engagement in an activity; the term stresses impetus, or driving power, rather than its effect; thus, one may check, or restrain, or forgo, or dismiss an impulse. In its more general sense impulse is applicable to a powerful incitement or instigation to activity, especially one arising within oneself as the result of a native propensity, one's peculiarity of temperament, or one's intellectual or emotional constitution
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he was not a man ... to yield timidly to the impulses of others— Prescott

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in Brave New World ... all are permitted to indulge their sexual impulses without let or hindrance— Huxley

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men like the elder Cato, Varro, and the elder Pliny liked to record the curiosities of nature, but they had not the systematiz-ing impulse, the restless passion for order, of the Greeks— Buchan

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Specifically, impulse is applicable to a spontaneous and often unconsidered and nearly irresistible urge to do something
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Dr. Lavendar . . . said to himself, chuckling, "If I'd followed my impulse, I'd have married them then and there, and made no bones of it"— Deland

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the first impulse of a child in a garden is to pick every attractive flower— Russell

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Gard suffered an odd impulse to get up and kick his chair over; but people don't do those things. He kicked the back log instead—Mary Austin

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Incentive applies chiefly to a cause which incites and encourages action or activity and especially to one for which the person affected is not himself responsible or which does not originate within himself
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offer a bonus as an incentive to greater speed and efficiency in production

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with some pupils praise is not an incentive to study

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money is not the only incentive to work, nor the strongest— Shaw

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the great incentive to effort, all through life, is experience of success after initial difficulties— Russell

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people ... cut off here without the influence of example or emulation, with no incentive but some natural yearning for order and security— Cather

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Inducement is narrower than incentive, for it consistently suggests an external influence and often an attempt to entice or allure to action or activity
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the chief inducements to serve were the pension and the right of citizenship which awaited a soldier on his discharge— Buchan

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his method of holding his followers together by culinary and bibulous inducements has often been described— L. M. Sears

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Spur applies to an impetus to action which not only incites but stimulates the mind and increases its energy and ardor
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fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise ... to scorn delights and live laborious days— Milton

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fear or despair may be a temporary spur to action— Sat. Review

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Goad applies to a stimulus to action or activity that keeps one going in spite of one's will or desire
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the daily goad urging him to the daily toil— Macaulay

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insecurity, considered by some management people as the indispensable goad for workers' efficiency— Dun's Review

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Analogous words: *cause, determinant, antecedent, reason: *desire, appetite, urge, passion, lust: *feeling, emotion, passion: purpose, intent, *intention, aim, end
2 *subject, matter, subject matter, argument, topic, text, theme, motif, leitmotiv
motive adj *movable, mobile
Analogous words: *active, operative, dynamic: moving, driving, impelling or impulsive (see corresponding verbs at MOVE)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.