motive - definition and synonyms

noun [countable] 

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  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 someone’s 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.