1 of 2


: a small particle : speck entry 1
motes danced in the shafts of sunlightMargaret Kennedy


2 of 2

auxiliary verb

: may, might

Examples of mote in a Sentence

Noun there's not a mote of dirt in that woman's house
Recent Examples on the Web
Slowly, surely, one mote of black dust at a time, tires are leaving their mark on the environment. Tim Stevens, The Verge, 17 Nov. 2023 In the 1996 film Twister, storm chasers played by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton sacrifice nearly everything to let loose swarms of data-collecting motes that get sucked up into a tornado and beam data back. IEEE Spectrum, 17 Aug. 2023 The dancing of a dust mote in a shaft of sunlight betrays the complex motions of unseen air molecules, and the emission of a photon or radioactive decay of a nucleus is analogous, Einstein figured. George Musser, Scientific American, 1 Sep. 2015 T’Challa’s coffin, carried by its team of all-woman warrior pallbearers—including Danai Gurira’s Okoye, showing nothing but betraying every mote of sorrow even so—is eventually relinquished to the sky, where it’s subsumed into a triangular ceremonial object and whisked off, gone forever. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 8 Nov. 2022 And jab your holy finger at my mote? Eric Chevlen, National Review, 12 Nov. 2020 Humans sitting on a tiny little mote of a planet in a hostile void worked collaboratively over many years to create incredible instruments capable of gathering photons of light emitted from a nebula 5,500 years ago. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 26 Dec. 2016 The world’s smallest battery is smaller than a dust mote. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 1 Mar. 2022 How lonely, and how far away everything is compared to that mote of dust. NBC News, 22 July 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mote.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English mot, from Old English; akin to Middle Dutch & Frisian mot sand

Auxiliary verb

Middle English, from Old English mōtan to be allowed to — more at must

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Auxiliary Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mote was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near mote

Cite this Entry

“Mote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a small particle : speck

More from Merriam-Webster on mote

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