Definition: Motto

From New World Encyclopedia


Borrowed from Italian motto (“a word, a saying”), from Latin muttum (“a mutter, a grunt”), late sixteenth century. Doublet of mot.


motto (plural mottos or mottoes)

  1. (heraldry) A sentence, phrase, or word, forming part of an heraldic achievement.
  2. A sentence, phrase, or word, prefixed to an essay, discourse, chapter, canto, or the like, suggestive of its subject matter; a short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle; a maxim.
    The motto of the bishop, eminent for his piety and good works, was "Serve God, and be cheerful."


motto (third-person singular simple present mottos, present participle mottoing, simple past and past participle mottoed)

  1. (intransitive) To compose mottos.


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