late 14c., "something brought forward, a proposition, assertion, or argument" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French motif "will, drive, motivation," noun use of adjective, literally "moving," from Medieval Latin motivus "moving, impelling," from Latin motus "a moving, motion," past participle of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").
Meaning "that which inwardly moves a person to behave a certain way, mental state or force which induces an action of volition" is from early 15c. Hence "design or object one has in any action."
late 14c., "having control of motion, causing motion, having power to move someone or something," from Old French motif "moving" or directly from Medieval Latin motivus "moving, impelling," from past-participle stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").
"theme, predominant feature that recurs often in an artistic or dramatic work," 1848, from French motif "dominant idea, theme," from Medieval Latin motivus "moving, impelling," from past participle stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away"). Also a Middle English form of motive (late 14c.).
From 1650s as "moving from place to place;" by 1814 as "having the power of moving by itself. The noun meaning "engine which travels on rails by its own power" is from 1829, short for locomotive engine, which is attested from 1814. A locomotive engine used without rails was a traction engine, which became tractor.
It forms all or part of: commotion; emotion; mob; mobile; moment; momentary; momentous; momentum; motif; motility; motion; motive; moto-; motor; move; movement; mutiny; premotion; promote; remote; remove.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit kama-muta "moved by love" and probably mivati "pushes, moves;" Greek ameusasthai "to surpass," amyno "push away;" Latin movere "move, set in motion;" Lithuanian mauti "push on."
"energetic force; motive force," 1894, from dynamic (adj.). As "manner of interaction," by 1978.