Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

  

English definition of “motive”

motive

noun [C]     /ˈməʊ.tɪv/ US  /ˈmoʊ.t̬ɪv/
B2 a reason for doing something: Why would she have killed him? She has no motive. Does he have a motive for lying about where he was? What is the motive behind (= the reason for) the bombing ? I think you should examine / question their motives in offering to lend you the money . She denies that she has an ulterior (= secret ) motive for making the donation .Motives and reasons
(Definition of motive noun from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of motive

Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Motives and reasons, but you might be interested in these topics from the Behaving and interacting topic area:

Definitions of “motive” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

best man

a male friend or relation of the bridegroom who stands with him and helps him during a marriage ceremony

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More