mo·​tet mō-ˈtet How to pronounce motet (audio)
: a polyphonic choral composition on a sacred text usually without instrumental accompaniment

Examples of motet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web According to Francisco, the composers represented no less than 30 print collections of solo songs, cantatas, motets, polyphonic works, settings for psalms and masses, a magnificat, a vespers service, a dozen sonatas, and scores for nine operas and other staged works. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2024 In Alium, the famous 40-part motet. Corey Seymour, Vogue, 26 Oct. 2021 In between the driving turbulence of its first movement and an unremittingly grim passacaglia as its final movement was an adaptation of a medieval form—the isorhythmic motet—in which searing gestures alternated with passages of ethereal tranquility. Walter Simmons, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 An early breakthrough came from listening to a traditional singer of the Serer people, whose plaintive melody reminded Catta of a Renaissance motet. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2022 Philippe Herreweghe led his Ghent choir in a fine performance of Mendelssohn’s motet. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 28 Aug. 2022 As well as hymns, a motet and a sermon, the solemn vespers would include a gigantic two-part oratorio composed by the church’s Cantor—the director of music—with a text taken from St. Matthew’s gospel. Boyd Tonkin, WSJ, 14 Apr. 2022 The ceiling is tall and arched, like the hallways of a cloister, and offers acoustics befitting a motet. Gregory Barber, Wired, 10 Feb. 2022 But the motet ends with the calm assurance of a Lutheran hymn. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 4 Oct. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'motet.' 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, from Middle French, diminutive of mot

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of motet was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near motet

Cite this Entry

“Motet.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


mo·​tet mō-ˈtet How to pronounce motet (audio)
: a form of church music to be sung by several voices usually without accompanying instruments and with several melodies woven together

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