From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishmotivemo‧tive1 /ˈməʊtɪv $ ˈmoʊ-/ ●●○ AWL noun [countable] 1 REASONthe reason that makes someone do something, especially when this reason is kept hidden What do you suppose the killer’s motive was?motive for (doing) something The police believe the motive for this murder was jealousy.motive behind The motives behind the decision remain obscure. The violence was clearly prompted by political motives. It’s not the kind of thing he’d do unless he had an ulterior motive (=a reason he kept hidden).► see thesaurus at reason2 x-refa motif —motiveless adjective an apparently motiveless killingCOLLOCATIONSadjectivesa strong motiveBarbara had a strong motive for disliking Ben.the main motiveThe main motive for the killings seemed to be revenge.the prime/primary motive (=the main motive)Concern was her prime motive in visiting Mrs Green.a possible motiveThe police are still thinking about possible motives for the murders.a clear motiveShe had no clear motive to lie.a hidden motiveShe wondered if there was a hidden motive for his departure.an ulterior motive (=a hidden motive)Did you think I had an ulterior motive for coming here?somebody’s real/true motiveWhat were his true motives for offering her the job?an underlying motive (=a motive that is not directly stated)The treaty’s underlying motive was to make Japan a strong ally of the US.a political motiveThe murders might have a political motive.an economic motiveMany people believed that there were economic motives to the decision to go to war.mixed motivesHe had mixed motives for joining the army: a desire to prove himself, but also the desire to get away from his family.verbshave a motiveWho might have had a motive for killing him?question/suspect somebody’s motive (=think that someone might have selfish or dishonest reasons for doing something)They began to question the motives of the people who held positions of power.find/establish a motiveSo far the police have been unable to establish a motive for the murder.
Examples from the Corpusmotive• However, if the prosecution does not raise it as a motive for murder the defence is unlikely to challenge this.• Morris said that police have not determined a motive in the attack.• Marty social services are simply not well suited to companies whose basic motive is profit.• In an age when information is power, there are clear motives for archiving.• It's hard to understand her motives.• Nor does it provide a rationale for people with questionable motives to vent their hostilities or express their idiosyncrasies.• There is an obvious social motive behind explanations with a sharing function.• Police believe the motive for the murder was jealousy• Police say the motive for the killing was an unpaid drug debt.• Police are investigating but said they had no clue as to the motive.• The motive behind the killing of Agnes Law was robbery.• She was suspicious. Was there an ulterior motive behind his request?• Whatever your motives for coming over, I'm glad you did.motive for (doing) something• Chief Superintendent Louis Munn said police were still trying to piece together exactly what happened and establish a motive for the attack.• Motivation means that you have a good motive for action.• But it was not the Crown's invariable motive for summoning a Parliament.• If a national asylum were provided there would be no motive for concealment.• Police have said they know of no motive for the shooting.• It is of course difficult to appraise peoples' motives for buying or selling derivative assets, so mere observation is insufficient.• Jamie had no idea of her real motive for searching the dead man's rooms.• Consideration should be given to the background of prospective clients and their motives for requiring us to carry out the work.motivemotive2 AWL adjective [only before noun] technicalHPTEM the motive power or force for a machine, vehicle etc makes it move Water provided the motive power for the mill.
Examples from the Corpusmotive• It was the motive force that powered the world.Origin motive1 (1500-1600) Old French motif, from motif “moving”; → MOTIVE2 motive2 (1400-1500) Old French motif, from Medieval Latin motivus, from Latin motus; → MOTOR1