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

Hardware manufacturers are also getting ready, with plans already in motion for a number of devices that will take advantage of those faster networks. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "The phone could use Intel’s 5G modem," 3 Nov. 2018 Lerma agrees, explaining that brushes offer a more full range of motion for flawless makeup application. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "7 Mistakes You're Making When You Conceal Pimples," 1 Nov. 2018 Sheboygan County Judge Angela Sutkiewicz denied Avery’s motion for a new trial. German Lopez, Vox, "The first season was a huge hit, and quite a bit has happened since it premiered.," 18 Oct. 2018 Judge Tom Olson denied a defense motion for a mistrial at the end of Hoehn's testimony. Fox News, "The Latest: Trial in pregnant woman's slaying goes to jury," 27 Sep. 2018 The wedding planning already seems to be in motion for the couple. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Justin Bieber Teases When He's Getting Married to Hailey Baldwin," 30 July 2018 But Leibensperger later granted Stallings’ motion for a new trial, on the grounds that his lawyer provided ineffective assistance by failing to seek a self-defense instruction for the jury, records show. Travis Andersen,, "Appeals Court reinstates conviction of gang member in asthma manslaughter case," 11 July 2018 McIver’s attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial and announced their intentions to appeal his conviction. Christian Boone, ajc, "Tex McIver’s Putnam County ranch on auction block," 11 July 2018 Hello! West Hartford President and Founder Elizabeth Perry Blank said a motion for stay of removal, filed in early April, was denied. Mikaela Porter, Courant Community, "Community Rallies Around West Hartford Man In Sanctuary Nearly Eight Months," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Just last month California motioned to ban all cosmetic animal testing for products sold in the state by 2020. Deanna Pai, Glamour, "CoverGirl Just Announced It's Now Entirely Cruelty-Free," 5 Nov. 2018 The reporter motioned toward Judge’s car, which was parked in the driveway and carried a collection of Superman comics, piles of clothes, and a package addressed to him. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "Who Is Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh's High School Drinking Buddy?," 2 Oct. 2018 The Celtics were trailing by 1 with less than 10 seconds left when Stevens motioned for a timeout, just as Horford was about to receive an entry pass in the post against the 76ers’ Ersan Ilyasova. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Boston’s Al Horford Has Enough Experience for His Entire Team," 6 May 2018 When Byrne motioned to appoint Fleischhauer as interim village manager, Hunt helped explain the deal. Rick Kambic,, "Without explanation, Vernon Hills appoints retired police chief as interim village manager," 22 Mar. 2018 Then Simmons motioned to Lowry to meet him in the hallway for a fight after both were ejected. Keith Pompey,, "Sixers' Ben Simmons displaying physicality, grit that comes from his native Australia," 11 Mar. 2018 At least, that’s what his father, Aron, told Stephanie one Halloween, motioning toward the five-year-old red Power Ranger with an overflowing bag of candy. Alex Prewitt,, "Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs Just Need Someone to Throw Them the Damn Ball," 10 Jan. 2018 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

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

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Statistics for motion

Last Updated

18 Nov 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

History and Etymology for motion


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

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Comments on motion

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


noxious or harmful

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