mot·​tle | \ ˈmä-tᵊl How to pronounce mottle (audio) \

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 How to pronounce mottling (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from mottle


mottled \ ˈmä-​tᵊld How to pronounce mottled (audio) \ adjective


mottler \ ˈmät-​lər How to pronounce mottler (audio) , 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

When the bottom tortilla is nicely mottled with golden-brown spots, flip the whole thing and cook until the cheese is melted. Daniel Neman, Twin Cities, "Make dinner in a snap with these rotisserie chicken recipes," 6 June 2019 The bobcat, known scientifically as lynx rufus, or red lynx, has reddish to tan fur, stripes on its face and mottled spots on its body. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: When it comes to wildcats in Wisconsin, bobcats are king," 5 June 2019 Daisy hates bananas, even when they aren’t mottled with gray-green splotches. David Canfield,, "Exclusive: The author of A Simple Favor is back with another juicy thriller," 5 June 2019 The curved tusk was mottled dark- and light-brown, about 8 inches (20 centimeters) in diameter on the large end and 6 inches (15 centimeters) in diameter at the narrow end. Dan Joling, The Seattle Times, "Alaska man sentenced for stealing fossilized mammoth tusk," 11 Apr. 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mottle

Statistics for mottle

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mottle

The first known use of mottle was in 1602

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on mottle

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


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!