mot·​to | \ ˈmä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce motto (audio) \
plural mottoes also mottos

Definition of motto

1 : a sentence, phrase, or word inscribed on something as appropriate to or indicative of its character or use "The Crossroads of America" is the motto of the state of Indiana.
2 : a short expression of a guiding principle "Hope for the best and prepare for the worst" is my motto.

Examples of motto in a Sentence

“Hope for the best and prepare for the worst” is my motto. The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared.”

Recent Examples on the Web

No stocking is fully stuffed without face products (my new seasonal motto), and naturally, Kylie Cosmetics' holiday collection includes a few of those too. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Kylie Jenner Just Revealed Her Entire 2018 Holiday Makeup Collection on Instagram," 14 Nov. 2018 The graduates were proud to embrace the school’s Latin motto, Non scholae sed vitae discimus. Hayley Harding,, "For Classical Magnet Graduates, Learning Was For Life Not School," 15 June 2018 Advertising France has its own problems, of course, including persistent discrimination against residents with immigrant backgrounds despite a national motto proclaiming equality for all. Thomas Adamson, The Seattle Times, "France shows Britons splendor of citizenship as Brexit looms," 24 Mar. 2019 If Meghan Markle had a bridal style motto, that would pretty much sum it up. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "You Can Now Shop Meghan Markle's Stella McCartney Wedding Dress In-Store & Online," 14 Nov. 2018 Our motto says 'nothing but the best is good enough'., "FanView: Evertonians Won't Stand for 'Winning the Second Half' Stance After Man City Humbling," 3 Apr. 2018 One of the colleges my son visited was my alma mater, Haverford College (proud motto: ``Among The First In The Nation To Drop Football''). Dave Barry, miamiherald, "Classic '98: College bound," 22 June 2018 Cat's mother rules the kingdom of Fisa and raised her children by the family motto: Kill or be killed. Lidija Dorjkhand,, "Romance round-up: Bouchet's 'Heart on Fire,' Chase's 'Duke in Shining Armor,' and Balogh's 'Someone to Wed," 25 Feb. 2018 At a candlelight vigil Thursday night, many students wore T-shirts emblazoned with the band’s motto. Nina Agrawal,, "Who they were: The victims of the Parkland school shooting," 16 Feb. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for motto

Italian, from Late Latin muttum grunt, from Latin muttire to mutter

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Statistics for motto

Last Updated

13 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for motto

The first known use of motto was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of motto

: a short sentence or phrase that expresses a rule guiding the behavior of a particular person or group


mot·​to | \ ˈmä-tō How to pronounce motto (audio) \
plural mottoes

Kids Definition of motto

1 : a phrase or word inscribed on something (as a coin or public building) to suggest its use or nature
2 : a short expression of a guiding rule of conduct The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared.”

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More from Merriam-Webster on motto

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with motto

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for motto

Spanish Central: Translation of motto

Nglish: Translation of motto for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of motto for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about motto

Comments on motto

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


an act or instance of returning to life

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