As a bit of background, for my first post on the site, let’s talk etymology!

While I’m far from the first person to have coined the word “mojovation”, let’s look a little at the words that it’s blending together, to better understand my intent.


Merriam-Webster: “The act/process of motivating”, or “The condition of being motivated”; where “motive” = “Something such as a need or desire that causes a person to act”.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary: “The reason why somebody does something or behaves in a particular way”, or “The feeling of wanting to do something, especially something that involves hard work and effort”.


Merriam-Webster: “A magic spell, hex or charm”

One of the most popular contemporary* usages is in the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, when Dr Evil steals Austin’s “mojo”, presented in the movie as the secret to his sexual appeal. Needless to say, we’re swerving that nature of the meaning here - although it’s still a form of mystical, intangible “X factor”.

* doesn’t it suck when we discover that our “contemporary” references are over twenty years old?

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary: Simply “magic power”, although it also gives a nod to the Austin Powers usage, with “The power of somebody’s attractive personality”.

Other usages in the wild

Would you believe that the word “mojovate” has its own Urban Dictionary page? It certainly caught me by surprise, not least because somebody claims to have trademarked the word, although based on my searching, this seems to be unsubstantiated. I searched the US Patent Office records, and found only two dead records:

  • An advertising/marketing firm in Washington, who first used the name in 2012, registered it with the Patent Office in 2014, and had it cancelled (no longer in use) in 2021.
  • The name of a coffee-based beverage from the PJ Bean Company (also known as Planet Java), filed between 2002-2003, but the company no longer seems to exist.

There are a smattering of other usages out there on the web, including a Twitter account @Mojovation which was only active in 2009, and a similarly-named Instagram account which has no posts or followers.

In summary…

Motivation is an emotion/feeling, which leads to a behaviour/action, often something which requires significant effort. This makes sense; we don’t generally need to motivate ourselves to undertake everyday activities, such as making breakfast (although a lack of motivation might make it difficult for us to haul ourselves out of bed sometimes; and spoon theory teaches us not to make sweeping generalisations). But when something is going to require effort, focus or stress, we need that voice in our head (or from a friend/colleague) to psych us up for success.

Whether that motivation (from ourselves or others) is successful, then, is dependent on intangible factors which we could easily class as mojo. There are hurdles to be cleared, too - procrastination, for example, is one of the enemies of motivation, and one which made itself known even in the writing of this article. If we could better understand the mojo - what it is that makes us more likely to succeed at motivating - then wouldn’t we have better, happier lives?

Key takeaways 📝

  • Motivation - especially of others - is sometimes a dark art, hence we call it “mojovation”.
  • The more we discuss what motivates ourselves (and others), the more we can try to tame it.
  • Urban Dictionary is a really strange place to make an unsubstantiated trademark claim.