Definition of leitmotif in English:


Syllabification: leit·mo·tif
Pronunciation: /ˈlītmōˌtēf
(also leitmotiv)


  • A recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation.
    More example sentences
    • The constant struggle to make a living in the arts in New Zealand runs like a leitmotiv throughout the book.
    • The book of Jonah is a leitmotif in this novel for illustrating this idea.
    • The key leitmotiv throughout Richard Hooker's writings is the concept of order.


late 19th century: from German Leitmotiv, from leit- 'leading' (from leiten 'to lead') + Motiv 'motive'.

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