mo·​tion | \ ˈmō-shən How to pronounce motion (audio) \

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
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 How to pronounce motioning (audio) \

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 How to pronounce Motion (audio) \

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 How to pronounce motional (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
motionless \ ˈmō-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce motionless (audio) \ adjective
motionlessly adverb
motionlessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for motion

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of motion in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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 In another motion, Rossmanith asked the court to exclude evidence of specific good acts by Blakely. al, "Limestone County sheriff wants to block drinking, gambling evidence from trial," 21 Feb. 2020 The algorithm was similarly good at predicting individuals’ preferences, based on their previous ratings and characteristics of the photos like contrast and motion. Sara Reardon, Science | AAAS, "Do you like weird art? Blame your brain," 20 Feb. 2020 While its engine noise and ride isolation stayed within suitable levels, the NX's nonchalant body motion and uncoordinated steering made us pine for the more entertaining alternatives that populate this segment. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, "The Popular Lexus NX300h Makes Hybrid Crossovers Look Cool," 20 Feb. 2020 Prosecutors have until March 20 to file motions detailing why the two women should face the death penalty if convicted of the killings, Rees said in a statement to CNN. Pierre Meilhan, CNN, "A Pennsylvania mom and daughter accused of killing five relatives have pleaded not guilty," 19 Feb. 2020 Judge Wallace Bateman said prosecutors can have until March 20 to file motions explaining why the Decrees should be put to death if convicted. Fox News, "Pennsylvania mom, daughter plead not guilty in killings of 5 relatives," 19 Feb. 2020 Judge Jackson ruled Tuesday morning that Mr. Stone’s sentencing would go forward as planned on Thursday despite last-ditch motions by his defense lawyers. Peter Baker, New York Times, "As Trump Claims to Be Law of the Land, Barr’s Irritation Builds," 18 Feb. 2020 City Councilman Luke Orlando had proposed a last-minute motion at the council’s Feb. 11 meeting to to put a term-limit proposition before voters on the May 2 ballot. Carissa D. Lamkahouan, Houston Chronicle, "Should Pearland mayor post be subject to term limits?," 17 Feb. 2020 In the Chicago case, the court denied plaintiffs' motion for class-action certification, and two of the plaintiffs opted for minimal settlements. Laura Garcia,, "3 San Antonio hospital systems settle nurses’ wage lawsuit," 29 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Only two defenders outflanked 49ers tight end George Kittle — the last man on the left-side of the field for San Francisco — after Juszczyk motioned toward the right. John Hirschauer, National Review, "Kyle Shanahan’s Revolution," 2 Feb. 2020 Defenses must now be prepared to defend deep shots to jet-motioning receivers. Andy Benoit,, "How Kellen Moore’s Offense Potentially Shifts the Dak Prescott Conversation," 25 Sep. 2019 Texas A&M faced first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, and as Dinson motioned toward the line to blitz, Murray pulled the ball on a zone read and sprinted toward the right side of the field, his eyes fixated on the pylon. Tom Green |, al, "4 years after devastating injury nearly ended his career, Jeremiah Dinson is better than ever," 16 Sep. 2019 When Lance got back, Woody motioned to two large file cabinets inside the garage. Shaun Raviv, Wired, "The Secret History of Facial Recognition," 21 Jan. 2020 On Friday, he was joined inside the courtroom by his wife, Dana, his two young sons, and his sponsor, Marie Reimers, who formally motioned for him to be admitted to the state bar during a private swearing-in ceremony. Sam Fry, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan attorney sworn in by judge who sent him to prison 20 years ago," 26 Nov. 2019 The Bears try to get Cohen a free release by lining him up wide or motioning him out of the backfield. Rich Campbell,, "5 things we heard from Bears coordinators Thursday, including Eddy Pineiro’s ‘rut,’ the receivers’ drops and Tarik Cohen’s touches," 21 Nov. 2019 Jorgen Skjelvik was motioning for the ball near the end line so Pavon sent it forward for the defender, who delivered a perfect cross in the center of the box for Ibrahimovic, who finished cleanly with his right foot. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores twice as Galaxy end skid in win over FC Dallas," 14 Aug. 2019 At the end of the vote on the second article, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi glared as someone in the chamber began to cheer, motioning for the person to knock it off. Grace Segers, CBS News, "House Democrats strike "sad," "solemn" tone in marathon debate over impeaching Trump," 18 Dec. 2019

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

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for motion

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for motion

Last Updated

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Motion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for motion


How to pronounce Motion (audio)

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 How to pronounce motion (audio) \

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 How to pronounce motion (audio) \

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

History and Etymology for motion


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

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