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leitmotif

noun leit·mo·tif \ˈlīt-mō-ˌtēf\

Definition of leitmotif

  1. 1 :  an associated melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation especially in a Wagnerian music drama

  2. 2 :  a dominant recurring theme



Did You Know?

The English word leitmotif (or leitmotiv, as it is also spelled) comes from the German Leitmotiv, meaning "leading motive" and formed from leiten ("to lead") and Motiv (motive). In its original sense, the word applies to opera music and was first used by writers interpreting the works of composer Richard Wagner, who was famous for associating a melody with a character or important dramatic element. Leitmotif is still commonly used with reference to music and musical drama but is now also used more broadly to refer to any recurring theme in the arts or in everyday life.

Variants of leitmotif

also leitmotiv play \ˈlīt-mō-ˌtēf\

Origin of leitmotif

German Leitmotiv, from leiten to lead + Motiv motive


First Known Use: circa 1876


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