American English

Definition of motive noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

      

    motive

     noun
    noun
    NAmE//ˈmoʊt̮ɪv//
     
     
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  1. 1motive (for something) a reason for doing something There seemed to be no motive for the murder. I'm suspicious of his motives. the profit motive (= the desire to make a profit) I have an ulterior motive in offering to help you. Thesaurusreasonexplanation grounds basis excuse motive justification pretextThese are all words for a cause or an explanation for something that has happened or that someone has done.reason a cause or an explanation for something that has happened or that someone has done; a fact that makes it right or fair to do something:She refused our request, but she didn't give a reason.explanation a statement, fact, or situation that tells you why something has happened; a reason given for something:The most likely explanation is that his plane was delayed. She left the room abruptly without explanation.grounds (somewhat formal) a good or true reason for saying, doing, or believing something:You have no grounds for your accusation.basis (somewhat formal) the reason why people make a particular choice:On what basis will this decision be made?excuse a reason, either true or invented, that you give to explain or defend your behavior; a good reason that you give for doing something that you want to do for other reasons:Late again! What's your excuse this time? It gave me an excuse to drive instead of walking.motive a reason that explains someone's behavior:There seemed to be no motive for the murder.justification (somewhat formal) a good reason why something exists or is done:I can see no possible justification for any further tax increases.grounds or justification?Justification is used to talk about finding or understanding reasons for actions, or trying to explain why it is a good idea to do something. It is often used with words like little, no, some, every, without, and not any. Grounds is used more for talking about reasons that already exist, or that have already been decided, for example by law:moral/economic grounds.pretext (somewhat formal) a false reason that you give for doing something, usually something bad, in order to hide the real reason:He left the party early on the pretext of having to work.Patterns (a/an) reason/explanation/grounds/basis/excuse/motive/justification/pretext for something the reason/motive behind something on the grounds/basis/pretext >of/that…> (a) valid reason/explanation/grounds/excuse/motive/justification a good reason/explanation/basis/excuse/motive
  2. 2= motif (2)
  3. NAmE//ˈmoʊt̮ɪvləs//
     
    adjective an apparently motiveless murder/attack
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: motive

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