I have a problem with a phrase that can describe the following:

a strong reason for wanting something to happen because you will get advantage from it.

I need the phrase for a formal essay.

  • 5
    A common way to convey this is to say you have a vested interest in something [happening]. Dec 16 '15 at 16:06
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers - I have noticed often that you post the most correct answers to questions but in comments. What stops you from posting them as answers instead of comments?
    – BiscuitBoy
    Dec 16 '15 at 16:15
  • 3
    What is something? Death? Accident? Or somebody's illness? Your question is unclear and what makes you think you can get an answer with that example? Please write an example sentence where the word would be used. The following is the very strict rule of this community. Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered.I would advise you to take the tour and visit our help center to see how it works here.
    – user140086
    Dec 16 '15 at 16:19
  • 1
    @BiscuitBoy 2 reps were given to you for the edit. But, please make sure your edit also covers grammatical mistakes and typos. Please take a look at my edit. I make a mistake in editing, too.:-)
    – user140086
    Dec 16 '15 at 16:31
  • 1
    @BiscuitBoy: See my answer on meta. That has a net rating of 0 (4 upvotes and 4 downvotes) - so obviously not everyone endorses my position, but not everyone is against it, either. On the other side of the coin, why are you apparently so keen to post actual answers which you then quickly delete? At least twice in the past few days I've found that a comment I'd laboriously composed against one of your answers couldn't be posted because you'd deleted the answer while I was typing. (We're not working against the clock here, you know! :) Dec 16 '15 at 16:34

I suggest the expression,

ulterior motive:

  • if you have an ulterior motive for doing something, you do it partly because you think you will get some advantage from doing it.


  • 1
    Specifically in many cases ulterior motives. Dec 16 '15 at 16:37
  • Alternatively, the word bias does the job without implying the secrecy.
    – IchabodE
    Dec 16 '15 at 22:58

Another useful expression is,

hidden agenda:

  • an undisclosed plan, especially one with an ulterior motive.



I prefer @Chris's answer for a single, concise word. On the other hand, if you are okay with using an idiom, try

  • To have some vested interest in or something to gain by a given situation.

    • Some people can watch a football game no matter who is playing, but I'm only interested if I've got a dog in the hunt. Many small business owners—whether they know it or not—have a dog in the hunt with this proposed tax bill.

The origin is from the use of dogs to scent and/or flush game animals, and if a dog you owned was being used, you would desire its success, as this would translate to your success as a hunter.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.