Monday, January 2, 2012

Word of the Week - Motivation

It's the first Monday of 2012, and though we may not all make resolutions, I imagine many of us are thinking about what we want to do differently this coming year, and what we won't want to budge on. We're embracing the idea of a fresh start in some areas and accepting the traditions as a way to motivate ourselves.

So I figured this would be a good word to share the history of today. =) Did you know that "motivation" wasn't in use until 1873? Pretty late! And even then, it was only used in a literal, physical sense of "causing to move toward action." The sense of "inner or social stimulus" didn't come into play until 1904.

I discovered this last year when writing Annapolis and was baffled for a good long minute. My character was claiming that his friend would question his motivations. But if he couldn't question his "motivations" in 1783, then what was he questioning?

Then I had a "duh" moment--he would be questioning his motives. "Motive" carried that very meaning since the 15th century. Which rather begs the question of why we ever thought we had to add that "-ation" ending to it, doesn't it?

Which brings me back to one of my favorite quotations--I believe this is from Pascal, though I'd have to look through my old notes to make sure, so if I'm wrong, please correct me. I love this one because it's basically saying "Don't be pretentious, dude." So a fun one to start off our new year . . .

"Think with deep motives--but talk like an ordinary person."

Happy New Year!


  1. Ohh - good stuff!

    Thanks, dear Roseanna.

  2. That's interesting. i wonder why they did add those extra letters.