Definition of mottle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmädl/


[with object] (usually be mottled)
Mark with spots or smears of color: the cow’s coat was light red mottled with white (as adjective mottled) a bird with mottled brown plumage
More example sentences
  • The Upland Sandpiper is a black, brown, and white mottled bird with a long neck and tail and yellow legs.
  • The bald skin is mottled with age spots, which have gone crusty.
  • The woman was wearing a short sleeved beige top and her bare arms were mottled red from the cold.
blotchy, blotched, spotted, spotty, speckled, streaked, streaky, marbled, flecked, freckled, dappled, stippled;
informal splotchy


1An irregular arrangement of spots or patches of color: the ship was a mottle of khaki and black
More example sentences
  • Cold Mountain was a mottle of colour, rising behind the house.
1.1 (also mottling) A spot or patch forming part of a mottled arrangement: the mottles on a trout white marble with mottlings of black and gray
More example sentences
  • Peanuts will grow in clay loam, but small clay particles stick to the textured surfaces of mature peanut pods, leaving mottles that mar the beauty of the shells.
  • People like the original glass, even if it does have a few mottles.
  • Remarkably, however, the rooms on the second floor below show little sign of decay, bar some mottles on the ceiling.


Late 18th century: probably a back-formation from motley.

  • motley from Late Middle English:

    The word motley originally described a fabric woven from different-coloured threads, and was later extended to refer to the multicoloured costume traditionally worn by a court jester. To wear motley is to play the fool, and a motley fool is a professional jester. On with the motley is a quote from the English translation of Leoncavello's 1892 opera Pagliacci, about the real-life troubles of a group of comic actors, while motley crew was in use of a mixed bunch of sailors by the mid 18th century. Mottle was formed in the late 18th century from motley.

Words that rhyme with mottle

axolotl, bottle, dottle, glottal, pottle, throttle, wattle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mot·tle

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