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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    I've never heard/seen incented. I would use incentivized. – ukayer Feb 10 '12 at 5:08
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    Dictionary.com says they're synonymous so use whichever. – Matt E. Эллен Feb 10 '12 at 15:01
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    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
  • @KitZ.Fox Why not? It's useful to have a word meaning 'to give an incentive'. – Aeon Akechi Feb 24 '18 at 10:43

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).

  • 1
    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

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.


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

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
  • Why make a new verb with a clear meaning when we can fall back on clumsy phrases or verbs that mean something else? – siride Mar 4 '18 at 22:09

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