motive

Definitions (2)
1. Law: Inducement, reason, or willful desire (purpose) behind the commission of an offense. Whether good (such as helping a patient suffering from unbearable chronic pain to commit suicide) or bad (such as to commit murder) it is normally not a deciding factor in determination of guilt or innocence (but 'intent' is). However, it may be relevant in a libel case, or may be invoked by a defending attorney in mitigation of punishment or by a prosecuting attorney as circumstantial evidence to prove guilt.
2. Psychology: Concern, desire, emotion, or need that energizes people to action and determines their choice of behavior.

Use motive in a sentence

Bob wondered what Bill's motive was for taking his car out to a party the other day without his permission.
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When you want to start a new business the motive will be to make the most profit so you must have a good plan.
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The local Police Department has spent countless hours trying to determine the motive behind recent drive by shootings in our area.
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