(noun, adjective, verb)


1. causing or able to cause motion

- a motive force

- motive power

Similar word(s): causative, motor

2. impelling to action

- motive pleas

Similar word(s): causative, motivating, motivative


1. the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior

- he acted with the best of motives

Similar word(s): motivation, need

Definition categories: general

2. a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music

Similar word(s): motif

Definition categories: communication, idea, theme

3. a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration

Similar word(s): motif

Definition categories: man–made, design, figure, pattern

Sentences with motive as a noun:

- 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.

- If you listen carefully, you can hear the flutes mimicking the cello motive.


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