1

motley

adjective mot·ley \ ˈmät-lē \

Definition of motley

1 :variegated in color
  • a motley coat
2 :made up of many different people or things
  • a motley crowd
  • a motley collection of junk

motley was our Word of the Day on 05/29/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of motley in a Sentence

  1. a motley collection of junk

  2. a motley crew of musicians

Recent Examples of motley from the Web

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

motley Might Have Roots in Middle English

Motley made its debut as an English adjective in the 14th century, but etymologists aren't completely sure where it came from. Many think it probably derived from the Middle English mot, meaning "mote" or "speck." The word is also used as a noun identifying a multicolored fabric, a garment made from such a fabric, or-perhaps the best known sense of all-the fool who often wore such outfits in the European courts of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Origin and Etymology of motley

Middle English, perhaps from mot mote, speck


2

motley

noun

Definition of motley

1 :a woolen fabric of mixed colors made in England between the 14th and 17th centuries
2 :a garment made of motley; especially :the characteristic dress of the professional fool
3 :jester, fool
4 :a mixture especially of incongruous elements

Examples of motley in a Sentence

  1. the motleys with their colorful outfits

  2. a motley of old junk stored in the attic

Recent Examples of motley from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of motley

Middle English, probably from 1motley


Motley

biographical name Mot·ley \ ˈmät-lē \

Definition of Motley

John Lothrop 1814–1877 American historian


MOTLEY Defined for English Language Learners

motley

adjective

Definition of motley for English Language Learners

  • : made up of many different people or things


MOTLEY Defined for Kids

motley

adjective mot·ley \ ˈmät-lē \

Definition of motley for Students

:composed of various often unlike kinds or parts
  • a motley collection of junk


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