[Anglo-French motif, from Middle French motif adjective, moving, from Medieval Latin motivus, from Latin motus, past participle of movēre to move]
: something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act NOTE: In criminal law, motive is distinguished from intent or mens rea. Although motive is not an element of a crime, evidence regarding motives can be introduced to help establish intent. In contract law, motive is usually distinguished from cause or consideration.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.