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What is the correct adjective to describe someone who has been given an incentive? Incented or incentivized? I have heard/seen both.

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closed as general reference by Matt E. Эллен, FumbleFingers, simchona, Manoochehr, kiamlaluno Feb 13 '12 at 17:07

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I've never heard/seen incented. I would use incentivized. – ukayer Feb 10 '12 at 5:08
1 says they're synonymous so use whichever. – Matt E. Эллен Feb 10 '12 at 15:01
I wish there were a "vote to close because words like this just shouldn't exist" button. – Kit Z. Fox Feb 10 '12 at 15:18

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It would be incentivized. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, incentivize is a valid verb meaning "to provide with an incentive." Incentivized is kind of a letdown. I was hoping for incentivated (like motivated).

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You could start saying motivized. – Rahul Feb 10 '12 at 10:53
From Google Ngrams, it looks like incented, incentivated, and incentivized are all used, with incentivized being the winner. One comment ... the pre-1960 uses of incented seem mostly to be typos for (or a variant form of) incensed. – Peter Shor Feb 10 '12 at 13:45

Both possibilities assume incentive has a verb form. It does not.

Just say "someone who has been given an incentive", or choose a variation like "encouraged" or "induced".

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Saying so don't make it so. I don't like the verb "incentivis/ze" either, but the claim that it doesn't exist is false. – Colin Fine Feb 10 '12 at 13:06
@Colin Fine: Go, Brits! Nice to see the "s" version (which I don't mind at all) acknowledged before the "z" one (which I don't much like either, but probably not for the same reason as you! :) – FumbleFingers Feb 10 '12 at 15:49

if you say "incentivized" you mean "promoting (something) with a particular incentive". So, motivated would be more appropriate.

...highly motivated employees.

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'Motivated' would normally imply 'self-motivated' unless the context said otherwise. – neil Feb 10 '12 at 14:20

I don't understand all the fuss over incentivise - it seems like a perfectly ordinary word to me, and Chambers 2011 have no problem listing it. I will admit it wasn't in their 1983 edition - but even if I can't recall exactly how I felt about the word back then, I doubt I'd have objected to it.

Incented sounds really odd/ignorant to me, but Google Books records it 3950 times, so perhaps I'm overreacting. Even so, it's blown away by over 27000 instances of incentivised / incentivized.

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