- something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity.
- inciting, as to action; stimulating; provocative.
- a motivating influence; stimulus
- an additional payment made to employees as a means of increasing production
- (as modifier)an incentive scheme
- serving to incite to action
early 15c., from Late Latin incentivum, noun use of neuter of Latin adjective incentivus “setting the tune” (in Late Latin “inciting”), from past participle stem of incinere “strike up,” from in- “in, into” (see in- (2)) + canere “sing” (see chant (v.)). Sense influenced by association with incendere “to kindle.” The adjective use, in reference to a system of rewards meant to encourage harder work, first attested 1943 in jargon of the U.S. war economy; as a noun, in this sense, from 1948.