How to say "incentive" in German

Aside from the more general word “Motivation” (f.), the two most common German words for “incentive” are either “Anreiz” (m.) or “Ansporn” (m.). The first one includes “Reiz” (m.), which means “charm”, “attraction” or “appeal”, and the latter includes “Sporn” (m.), which means (and is closely related to the English) “spur”, as in the metal worn on the heels of riding boots used to direct horses.

The word “incentivize” (or “incentivise”) does not really exist in German, so the construction “jemanden einen Anreiz schaffen” (literally “to establish an incentive for someone”) is used. However, “anspornen” can also be used as a verb in the sense of “to encourage” or “spur on”.

An “incentive system” is “Anreizsystem” (n.) or “Leistungssystem” (literally “performance/achievement system”) in German. A “tax incentive” is “Steueranreiz”.


– “Der Läufer wurde vom Publikum angespornt.” – “The runner was spurred on by the audience.”
– “Wir müssen ihr einen Anreiz verschaffen mehr zu arbeiten.” – “We have to create an incentive for her to work more.”

Listen up, lurkers!

We filmed an entire beginner German course!

More cool stuff from Expath

The best ways to remember gender in German

How's your German? Take our free online test!

How to get a handle on childcare in Berlin

Join us for small online German classes for English speakers

How to go about finding a flat in Berlin and Germany

All the different ways to say you're exhausted in German

Want to work as a freelancer in Germany but need more info?

Want to live and work in Germany but not sure how to do it?

How to obtain an artist visa for Berlin

How do English speakers find jobs in Germany?

All of Expath's German "words of the day"

How to tell time in German