mo·tion | \ˈmō-shən \

Definition of motion 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : an act, process, or instance of changing place : movement a pendulum in motion

b : an active or functioning state or condition set the divorce proceedings in motion

2 : an impulse or inclination of the mind or will the fundamental motions of humanity to good or evil— T. S. Eliot

3a : a proposal for action especially : a formal proposal made in a deliberative assembly made a motion that the meeting be adjourned

b : an application made to a court or judge to obtain an order, ruling, or direction His motion for a new trial was denied.

4 obsolete

a : a puppet show

b : puppet

5 : mechanism

6a : an act or instance of moving the body or its parts : gesture signaled with a motion of his arm

b motions plural : activities, movements taking advantage of the night to conceal his motions

7 : melodic change of pitch

in motion

American Football, of an offensive player : running parallel to the line of scrimmage before the snap


motioned; motioning\ˈmō-sh(ə-)niŋ \

Definition of motion (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to signal by a movement or gesture the pitcher motioned to the catcher

transitive verb

: to direct by a motion motioned me to the seat


biographical name
Mo·tion | \ˈmō-shən \

Definition of Motion (Entry 3 of 3)

Sir Andrew 1952–     British poet; poet laureate (1999–2009)

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Other Words from motion


motional \ˈmō-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl \ adjective
motionless \ˈmō-shən-ləs \ adjective
motionlessly adverb
motionlessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for motion

Synonyms: Noun

move, movement, shift, shifting, stir, stirring

Synonyms: Verb

beckon, flag, gesture, signal, wave

Antonyms: Noun


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Examples of motion in a Sentence


She has a simple golf swing with no wasted motion. the rhythmic motions of the waves He caught the ball and flipped it back to me in one fluid motion. The wax should be applied using a circular motion. He made hand motions to get our attention. She made a motion calling for the repeal of the law. Her motion was voted on. His lawyer filed a motion for a mistrial. The judge denied a motion to delay the hearing.


The guard motioned us through the gate. She motioned to her assistant. She motioned at the empty chair beside her and told me to sit down.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Kepler single set into motion a string of four straight hits, including Jake Cave’s first career triple, which drove in the Twins’ first run of the game, and Wilson’s first RBI hit of the afternoon. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Unable to keep early lead vs. Twins, Royals drop another series," 11 July 2018 The best bet to countering this defensive alignment — hitting a groundball to the opposite side of the field — is great in theory, but difficult to put into motion. Neil Greenberg,, "Analytics killed the bunt. Now a new data-driven strategy could bring it back to life.," 10 July 2018 President Trump's selection of Brett Kavanaugh as his choice for the next Supreme Court justice sets into motion an intense battle over the future of the court — and all eyes are now on the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 51-to-49 majority. Felicia Sonmez,, "How key senators reacted to Trump's Supreme Court pick," 10 July 2018 Quickly enough, the plot spins into motion, and the group has to reunite to battle a mysterious thief, called Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who has the power to walk through walls. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Ant-Man and the Wasp," 5 July 2018 The vision of Bam Adebayo last summer was of a versatile big man who could not only rebound and block shots, but also push the ball across midcourt and get the offense into motion. Ira Winderman,, "Bam Adebayo back to Heat summer school, seeking to expand game," 2 July 2018 The crafting of each shoe relies on kinesiology, how the body is put into motion, Markison explained. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Athalonz's Tim Markison helping make sports 'healthy for the future'," 28 June 2018 This downward migration is set into motion through the action of two key genes, INSL3 and RXFP2. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "The Earliest Mammals Kept Their Cool With Descended Testicles," 28 June 2018 And while some, including Hussain, remain doubtful that the DEA will put such a change into motion for marijuana as well, the mere fact of FDA approval may do wonders to remove the stigma from such research. Mackenzie Wagoner, Vogue, "Why the FDA's Approval of a Cannabis-Derived Drug Could Change the Future of Medical Marijuana," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

After dancing his own rendition of the famous choreography Glover performs in the song's music video, Foxx even motioned for Glover to join him onstage, where Glover offered a flawless impromptu mini-performance of the track's opening lines. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Childish Gambino Performs an Impromptu Version of 'This Is America' at the 2018 BET Awards," 24 June 2018 Marty Joyce on June 18 motioned for the council to reconsider its June 4 vote on a map amendment that would have changed the zoning of property at 425 Talcott Road from business to multi-family residential. Jennifer Johnson,, "Park Ridge aldermen to reconsider vote rejecting Talcott Road rezoning," 21 June 2018 But when the Patriots trailed 38-33 with two minutes left and Chris Hogan motioned wide, showing zone, the coverage forced Brady to hesitate and gave Brandon Graham the opportunity to sack the quarterback and force the biggest turnover of the game. Jeff Mclane,, "Jim Schwartz is still with Eagles, but how long can they keep him? | Jeff McLane," 1 June 2018 Shannon Dardar motioned toward the floor of the now-bare family room, indicating the spot where Pike died. Michelle Hunter,, "Families try to sort fact from rumor after Jefferson Parish triple homicide," 22 May 2018 Genis motioned to put the five-district option on the ballot in November, but the motion died for lack of a second. Luke Money,, "Costa Mesa won't pursue options to city's adopted voting districts," 20 June 2018 Surveying the gaps in the wall along the high school, Doherty motioned to the campus. Robert Weisman,, "Non-profit aims to get girls in the game," 28 May 2018 Two of the four Democrats who supported Clay this month — William Oliver and Joseph Simpson — flipped on Clay, with Simpson twice motioning for votes that set the stage for Clay to exit the council's top leadership position. Ryan Martin, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis Democrats find unity in move to oust Stephen Clay as council president," 29 Jan. 2018 On July 3, when formal council met, however, Councilmember Andre Spivey motioned to delay the vote. Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press, "On deadline day, workers begin boarding up Ilitch buildings on Cass," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'motion.' 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 motion


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1747, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for motion


Middle English mocioun, from Anglo-French motion, from Latin motion-, motio movement, from movēre to move


see motion entry 1


Anglo-French, from Latin motion-, motio movement, from movēre to move

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Statistics for motion

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for motion

The first known use of motion was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for motion



English Language Learners Definition of motion

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an act or process of moving

: a movement of your body or of a part of your body

: a formal suggestion or proposal that is made at a meeting for something to be done



English Language Learners Definition of motion (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a movement of your hand, head, etc., that tells someone to move or act in a certain way


mo·tion | \ˈmō-shən \

Kids Definition of motion

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an act or process of changing place or position : movement We felt the swaying motion of the train.

2 : a movement of the body or its parts … the motion of his arms was not unlike the flapping of a pair of wings.— Washington Irving, “Sleepy Hollow”

3 : a formal plan or suggestion for action offered according to the rules of a meeting She made a motion to adjourn.

Other Words from motion

motionless \-ləs \ adjective She stood motionless.


motioned; motioning

Kids Definition of motion (Entry 2 of 2)

: to direct or signal by a movement or sign Instantly she set the bird down and motioned everyone away …— Carolyn Keene, The Double Jinx Mystery


mo·tion | \ˈmō-shən \

Medical Definition of motion 

1 : an act, process, or instance of changing place : movement

2a : an evacuation of the bowels

b : the matter evacuated often used in plural blood in the motionsLancet

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Legal Definition of motion 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a proposal for action especially : a formal proposal made in a legislative assembly made a motion to refer the bill to committee

2a : an application made to a court or judge to obtain an order, ruling, or direction a motion to arrest judgment also : a document containing such an application

b : the initiative of a court to issue an order, ruling, or direction the court is given discretion to order a pretrial conference either on its own motion or at the request of a party— J. H. Friedenthal et al.

motion for a more definite statement

: a motion that is filed before an answer and that requests the court to order the plaintiff to clarify allegations in the complaint because the claims are so vague or ambiguous that an answer cannot reasonably be framed

motion for judgment on the pleadings

: a motion made after pleadings have been entered that requests the court to issue a judgment at that point — compare summary judgment at judgment sense 1a

Note: Under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, if matters outside of the pleadings are presented to the court when a motion for judgment on the pleadings is made, the motion will be treated as a motion for summary judgment.

motion in limine \-in-ˈli-mə-nē \

: a usually pretrial motion that requests the court to issue an interlocutory order which prevents an opposing party from introducing or referring to potentially irrelevant, prejudicial, or otherwise generally inadmissible evidence until the court has finally ruled on its admissibility

motion to strike

1 : a motion in a civil trial to remove from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter

2 : a motion in a criminal trial to exclude evidence from the record

motion to suppress

: a pretrial motion requesting the court to exclude evidence that was obtained illegally and especially in violation of Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment protections

omnibus motion \ˈäm-ni-bəs- \

: a motion that makes multiple requests filing an omnibus motion to dismiss and for a more definite statementDepartment of Ins. of Florida v. Coopers & Lybrand, 570 So. 2d 369 (1990)



Legal Definition of motion (Entry 2 of 2)

: move motioned for a summary judgment

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Comments on motion

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