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

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Other Words from mottle


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

Gray paint on the side of the building was still sooty and peeling, the sidewalk mottled and black. Los Angeles Times, "Broadway Place’s homeless residents were promised homes. Had the city forgotten them?," 15 Aug. 2019 His skin, mottled purple and red, felt recognizably like skin, though cooler. Jon Michaud, The New Yorker, "Julius: The Story of a Premature Birth," 15 Aug. 2019 All of them were on the moon’s mottled near side, where the terrain had been studied extensively by lunar orbiters and Mission Control could remain in direct contact with the astronauts. National Geographic, "Countdown to a new era inSpace," 17 June 2019 Symptoms of withdrawal in newborns range from relatively benign indicators like yawning, sneezing, mottled skin and a high-pitched cry to more serious problems like diarrhea, difficulty feeding and, very rarely, seizures. Jennifer Egan, New York Times, "Children of the Opioid Epidemic," 9 May 2018 When seen from above, the melting sea ice looked like a field of white mottled with dark splotches where the ice had turned to liquid. Meredith Fore, WIRED, "Magnetic Materials Help Explain How Arctic Ice Melts," 5 July 2019 Kelvin steers the truck over a dry lagoon mottled with hippo prints to get closer. Ken Geiger, National Geographic, "Why walking safaris are the best way to see wildlife," 17 June 2019 An intimate view of the arched back of a woman with long, wet hair against a dreamy, inchoate landscape, its heavy, rounded forms and soft, mottling brushstrokes arouse the sense of touch to an almost excruciating level. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "More and more people loathe Renoir. Is it time for a revival?," 25 June 2019 The damage causes plant foliage to look bronzed, flecked or mottled. Betty Cahill, The Denver Post, "How to get bad insects out of your garden, from Japanese beetles to spider mites," 24 June 2019

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

17 Sep 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

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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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