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 mottle (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 mottle (audio) , ˈmä-​tᵊl-​ər \ noun

Examples of mottle in a Sentence

Noun canvases covered with streaks and mottles Verb 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 Steckly had a long and mottled driving history, dating back to age 19. oregonlive, "Driver dies after crashing car in NE Portland, police say," 15 May 2020 The 11 brought to White Lake on Tuesday are still mottled brown and white. Washington Post, "11 more endangered whooping cranes in southwest Louisiana," 14 Nov. 2019 So dire was the state of U.S. dentition that in 1901, Frederick McKay’s discovery that many of his patients’ teeth were mottled with ugly brown stains generated little notice. Charles C. Mann, The Atlantic, "Is There Still a Good Case for Water Fluoridation?," 17 Mar. 2020 The next day, as the bananas were mottling, a brainstorm hit. Susan Gubar, New York Times, "Raising a Glass to Chronic Disease," 10 Mar. 2020 Down the slope ahead of him, 500 black Drakensberger and mottled Nguni cows graze cheek by jowl. David Mckenzie, CNN, "Put down that veggie burger. These farmers say their cows can solve the climate crisis," 6 Mar. 2020 Some of species' pitchers have mottled coloring that looks a bit like tasty carrion, which lures prey inside the pitcher. Liz Langley, National Geographic, "This deep-sea fish's expandable stomach can hold huge meals," 30 Oct. 2019 The light from these sources danced unpredictably and was always mottled by the smoke of imperfect combustion. Christopher Preston, Smithsonian, "How Cities and Lights Drive the Evolution of Life," 26 Nov. 2019 Researchers have known for decades that Venus’ surface is mottled with volcanoes, but determining whether those volcanoes are dormant or active from a distance is tricky. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Active Volcanoes May Still Exist on Venus," 6 Jan. 2020

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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Cite this Entry

“Mottle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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