Definition of motto in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmɒtəʊ/

noun (plural mottoes or mottos)

1A short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals of an individual, family, or institution: the family motto is ‘Faithful though Unfortunate’
More example sentences
  • His family motto epitomises the Giffards' traditional love of hunting.
  • Mark and I have also developed many skills over the years so make do and mend is a bit of a family motto.
  • Above a door he spots a shield with the Montgomerie family motto - ‘Guard Yourself Well’.
maxim, saying, proverb, aphorism, adage, saw, axiom, formula, expression, phrase, rule, dictum, precept, epigram, gnome;
slogan, catchphrase, watchword, byword, cry, battle cry;
truism, cliché, platitude
rare apophthegm
2 Music A phrase which recurs throughout a musical work and has some symbolical significance: they were developing the use of leitmotifs or mottoes that appear throughout an opera
More example sentences
  • Elgar rarely states the motto in full, and yet its presence haunts the entire work.


Late 16th century: from Italian, 'word'.

Words that rhyme with motto

blotto, Giotto, grotto, lotto, Otto, risotto, Watteau
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