Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

motive - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun [countable] motive pronunciation in American English /ˈmoʊtɪv/
Word Forms
  1. the reason that you do something
    Her motive was a genuine desire to improve conditions.
    motive for: The motive for the attack is still unknown.
    1. a.
      used in a negative way for showing that someones real reasons for doing something are not the ones that they tell other people
      real/underlying/ulterior motive: People thought he must have a ulterior motive for wanting to help.
      question/suspect someone’s motives: When he visited her at home again, she started to question his motives.


a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog