mot·​tle | \ ˈmä-tᵊl \

Definition of mottle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a colored spot
2a : a surface having colored spots or blotches
b : the arrangement of such spots or blotches on a surface


mottled; mottling\ ˈmät-​liŋ , ˈmä-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of mottle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to mark with spots or blotches of different color or shades of color as if stained

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Other Words from mottle


mottled \ ˈmä-​tᵊld \ adjective


mottler \ ˈmät-​lər , ˈmä-​tᵊl-​ər \ noun

Examples of mottle in a Sentence


canvases covered with streaks and mottles


old papers that were mottled by mold

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Remember to continue your daily sunscreen use to stave off more mottle. Katie Becker, Harper's BAZAAR, "How To Get Gorgeous Skin at Every Age," 5 Oct. 2015

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Others had arms and legs that were mottled purple, splotched with unexplained bruises. Julie Bosman, New York Times, "Tainted Synthetic Marijuana Sickens More Than 90 in Midwest, Killing 2," 6 Apr. 2018 Like every other dog around here, Dounia was small, thin, sharp-snouted, and mottled brown and white. New York Times, "Nearly Eradicated in Humans, the Guinea Worm Finds New Victims: Dogs," 18 June 2018 Cruz had undergone physical transformations for previous roles—including Sergio Castellitto’s Non ti Muovere, in which Cruz wore prosthetic nose and a makeup-mottled complexion. Julie Miller, HWD, "Penélope Cruz Never Wanted Her American Crime Story Experience to End," 19 June 2018 The curved tusk is dark- and light-brown, mottled and about 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) long. Washington Post, "Theft of mammoth proportions: Agency seeks stolen tusk," 19 June 2018 Ever been on a run through the woods and notice litter mottling the otherwise natural scenery? Nicole Spector /, NBC News, "All about 'plogging': The newest eco-friendly workout trend," 16 June 2018 Local headlines this year have been a reminder that the county is still conservative turf mottled with liberal patches, not the other way around. Vivian Yee, New York Times, "Democrats Hope Asian-American Influx Will Help Turn Orange County Blue," 3 June 2018 In his mugshot, the one-time police officer has wispy white hair and skin mottled with age — a far cry from the fair-haired young man in FBI sketches from decades ago. James Queally,, "From Golden State Killer to Grim Sleeper, DNA helping break serial killer mysteries from 1970s and 1980s," 29 Apr. 2018 The handblown miniglobes have been fitted with warm LEDs and are attached to metal tubes that are available in verdigris, tarnished silver and mottled brass finishes. Arlene Hirst, New York Times, "What’s Hot (and Cool) in Home Lighting," 8 May 2018

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


1676, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mottle


probably back-formation from motley

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Statistics for mottle

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mottle

The first known use of mottle was in 1602

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More from Merriam-Webster on mottle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mottle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mottle

Spanish Central: Translation of mottle

Nglish: Translation of mottle for Spanish Speakers

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