motivate

motivate
motivate, motivation
Motivation has a special meaning in psychology which the OED defines as ‘the conscious or unconscious stimulus for action towards a desired goal especially as resulting from psychological or social factors; the factors giving purpose or direction to human or animal behaviour’. Both it and the corresponding verb motivate have entered the language of business and industrial personnel management to denote the factors that induce employees to work well:

• The really crucial skills, to the headteacher charged with the responsibility of taking a school into this new territory, will be those of motivation, leadership and team-building —T. Brighouse et al., 1991

• Get to know the people you work with —by taking the time to do this you know exactly what motivates them —Irish News, 2007.

From here it is a short step to over-generalized uses in which both words are little more than synonyms for cause (verb and noun) or reason:

• The farming achievements of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were also motivated by the need for more food —J. Purseglove, 1989

• There was no racial motivation for the attack —Leicester Mercury, 2007.


Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • motivate — mo‧ti‧vate [ˈməʊtveɪt ǁ ˈmoʊ ] verb [transitive] 1. HUMAN RESOURCES to encourage someone and make them want to work hard: • The profit sharing plan is designed to motivate the staff. motivate somebody to do something • The project manager may… …   Financial and business terms

  • Motivate — Mo ti*vate, v. t. [imp. & p. p. { vated}; p. pr. & vb. n. { vating}.] [From {Motive}, n.] To provide with a motive; to move; impel; induce; incite. {Mo ti*va tion}, n. William James. Syn: move, prompt, incite, induce impel, drive. [Webster 1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • motivate — I verb activate, actuate, adjure, advise, affect, allure, animate, appeal, arouse desire, attract, captivate, carry weight, cause, challenge, charge, command, compel, convince, direct, draw, encourage, exert influence, exhort, fill with longing,… …   Law dictionary

  • motivate — (v.) 1863, to stimulate toward action, from MOTIVE (Cf. motive) + ATE (Cf. ate) (2); perhaps modeled on Fr. motiver or Ger. motivieren. Related: Motivated; motivating …   Etymology dictionary

  • motivate — actuate, *activate Analogous words: stimulate, quicken, *provoke, excite: arouse, rouse, *stir: inspire, animate, fire, *inform …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • motivate — [v] stimulate, instigate actuate, arouse, bring, cause, dispose, draw, drive, egg on*, excite, fire, galvanize, give incentive, goad, goose*, impel, incite, incline, induce, innervate, innerve, inspire, inspirit, lead, move, persuade, pique,… …   New thesaurus

  • motivate — ► VERB 1) provide with a motive for doing something. 2) stimulate the interest of. DERIVATIVES motivator noun …   English terms dictionary

  • motivate — [mōt′ə vāt΄] vt. motivated, motivating to provide with, or affect as, a motive or motives; incite or impel motivation n. motivational adj. motivative adj. motivator n …   English World dictionary

  • motivate */*/ — UK [ˈməʊtɪveɪt] / US [ˈmoʊtɪˌveɪt] verb [transitive] Word forms motivate : present tense I/you/we/they motivate he/she/it motivates present participle motivating past tense motivated past participle motivated 1) to make someone feel determined to …   English dictionary

  • motivate — mo|ti|vate [ˈməutıveıt US ˈmou ] v [T] 1.) to be the reason why someone does something = ↑drive ▪ Would you say that he was motivated solely by a desire for power? motivate sb to do sth ▪ We may never know what motivated him to kill his wife. 2.) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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