\ˈmōt \

Definition of mote 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a small particle : speck motes danced in the shafts of sunlight— Margaret Kennedy

Definition of mote (Entry 2 of 2)


: may, might

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Examples of mote in a Sentence


there's not a mote of dirt in that woman's house

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Plus Facebook has a strong interest in gaming and the reputation for going out and spending big on companies that can help expand its social networking mote. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Who could buy Discord? Acquirers have been giving the gaming startup a long look.," 21 Nov. 2018 Vanquished enemies drop motes of light, which players race to collect and bank at a central console. Aaron Zimmerman, Ars Technica, "Destiny 2: Forsaken review: Hallelujah, Destiny’s back," 19 Sep. 2018 The more motes you bank at once, the bigger the blocker. Aaron Zimmerman, Ars Technica, "Destiny 2: Forsaken review: Hallelujah, Destiny’s back," 19 Sep. 2018 The main worry is with the tiniest motes — known as PM 2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns across. Sara Morrison, USA TODAY, "In developing world, an expensive push to reduce cooking fire deaths falls short," 13 July 2018 Read more: Some highlights from the study results: Automotive globalization: Vehicles are now made in 25 countries for the U.S. market, which is 11 mote than five years ago. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Korean brands top J.D. Power quality; Ford, GM and FCA make strides," 20 June 2018 These celestial lighthouses can basically backlight the material that crosses the beam’s path, just as a flashlight beam illuminates unseen motes of dust in the air. Amina Khan,, "After years of searching, scientists can finally account for all the normal matter in the universe," 20 June 2018 Worse yet, the first two-thirds of the picture look dim and murky, as if it had been shot through a scrim of dust motes. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Review: Solo Is an Uneven Star Wars Film. But It's Filled With Terrific Performances," 16 May 2018 But there is a mote of solace that bears repeating: Hair is just a piece of our identity. Sarah Maslin Nir, Town & Country, "Strands of Truth: Hair, Self-Expression, and Identity," 23 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mote.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mote


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Auxiliary verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mote


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

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Statistics for mote

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mote

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

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More Definitions for mote



English Language Learners Definition of mote

: a very small piece of dust, dirt, etc.


\ˈmōt \

Kids Definition of mote

: a small particle : speck a mote of dust

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More from Merriam-Webster on mote

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mote

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mote

Spanish Central: Translation of mote

Nglish: Translation of mote for Spanish Speakers

Comments on mote

What made you want to look up mote? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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