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 Kudadoo Maldives brings the all-inclusive concept to new heights with its motto: Anything, Anywhere, Anytime. Sandra Ramani, Robb Report, 7 May 2022 As the Hoosiers' head coach, Allen has instituted the motto Love Each Other, also known as LEO, within the program. Drew Schott, The Arizona Republic, 4 May 2022 Destroy anything in their way, that’s the Colts’ new motto up front. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, 30 Apr. 2022 Like most avant-gardists of his generation, Warhol admired Duchamp, and found his motto easy to internalize. The New Yorker, 20 Apr. 2022 That sports motto rings true more than ever as the NBA playoffs are set to begin. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, 16 Apr. 2022 Their adamant refusal to give in has become a kind of motto of Ukrainian resistance, even commemorated in a postage stamp. Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr. 2022 Ars gratia artis is the motto curving above the headshot of a roaring lion, a corporate logo as well known as any designed by twentieth-century capitalism. Thomas Doherty, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Mar. 2022 Actually, Caleb Martin seemingly was born bouncy (or is that Lance Stephenson’s motto?). Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 27 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for motto

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

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Motto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for motto


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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