Definition of motto in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmädō/

noun (plural mottoes or mottos)

1A short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals guiding an individual, family, or institution: the school motto, “Serve and obey” he soon adopted the motto “work hard and play hard.”
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, apophthegm, formula, expression, phrase, dictum, precept;
slogan, catchphrase, mantra;
truism, cliché, platitude
1.1 Music A phrase that recurs throughout a musical work and has some symbolic significance.
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

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mot·to

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