Definition of leitmotif
1 : an associated melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation especially in a Wagnerian music drama
2 : a dominant recurring theme
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Recent Examples of leitmotif from the Web
The leitmotif of small cone hats and sensual face veils gave the silken 61-piece show a feel for the theatricality of the 1920s.
An oversize tubular cuff that mirrored the sleeve of a kimono was a leitmotif in Sacai’s 49-piece display that showcased both men’s and women’s designs.
Like most things Prada, this season’s theme was anything but literal, with Miuccia Prada using abstract comic book prints as the leitmotif that held her sporty, streamlined collection together.
Across the nine stories, in the leitmotif department, trepidations about turning 50 would get the nod.
But the tower hearkens back to an important leitmotif of Arthur’s story.
The score, with its eerie leitmotif, is by Howard Shore.
A leitmotif of the stories is the apparently terrific therapeutic value of joining Bush in his hobbies of mountain biking and golf.
President Barack Obama’s legacy served as an enduring leitmotif throughout the tumultuous, and in the end, unpredictable presidential election.
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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.
Origin and Etymology of leitmotif
German Leitmotiv, from leiten to lead + Motiv motive
First Known Use: circa 1880See Words from the same year
Learn More about leitmotif
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about leitmotif
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