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

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 There’s the episode where Homer skateboards over Springfield Gorge – almost (Season 2’s ‘Bart the Daredevil’). … Our motto is: More pain, more funny. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Who's Matt Groening's favorite 'Simpsons' character?," 27 Apr. 2018 Its motto is gluten-free from grain to glass, which reinforces the dedication to a safe product. Hannah Drown,, "Where can you find an entirely gluten-free brewery in the United States?," 24 Apr. 2018 No American embodied that motto better than our 41st president. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "George Bush’s Wonderful Life," 2 Dec. 2018 Despite the Mary’s Place motto, more than 4,200 of Washington state’s approximately 40,000 homeless students lived in Seattle during the 2016-’17 school year, according to a report by Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Jeff Bezos’s philanthropic projects aren’t as generous as they seem," 29 Nov. 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

16 Mar 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

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a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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