mot·to | \ˈmä-(ˌ)tō \
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

Tusk praised Kurz on his choice of a motto -- a Europe that protects -- and said that the need for security became evident during the migration crisis, with leaders working to ensure the EU is associated with stability, not instability. Lyubov Pronina,, "Austria's Kurz Wants to Build Bridges, Reduce Tension in EU," 30 June 2018 The press secretary removed one of Mr Shulkin’s statements from the VA website, and appeared to overrule him on the rewording of an agency motto. The Economist, "V strangeWhat is going on at the VA?," 1 Mar. 2018 Maier quietly but surely built BV into a full-fledged luxury house while staying true to its original motto, set forth in the 1970s: When your own initials are enough. Vogue, "Tomas Maier Spent 17 Years at Bottega Veneta, Here’s How Vogue Documented Them," 13 June 2018 This is probably not the motto at the new Delucca Gaucho Pizza & Wine, an attractive Southlake restaurant ironically housed in a former Cici’s Pizza, but one step inside is enough to muffle even the most vociferous anti-buffet eater. Anna Caplan, star-telegram, "The pizza version of a churrascaria exists — so wear your stretchy pants," 11 July 2018 It was also awarded a spot on Glassdoor's Employees' Choice: Best Places to Work list for the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The company's overarching motto reflects these accolades. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Salesforce Is Hiring 150 Work-From-Home Employees with Full Benefits," 13 July 2017 The motto of the late King Abdullah was yawash, yawash (slowly, slowly). The Economist, "A wild rideRadical reforms in Saudi Arabia are changing the Gulf and the Arab world," 21 June 2018 For the players who pushed their bodies to the limit to reach the World Cup final, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has an apt motto. Rob Harris,, "Three reasons why Croatia will win the World Cup final," 14 July 2018 Fans were excited to see England's motto for the World Cup appear in the sky. Jenna West,, "Sadly, England's "It's Coming Home" Flyover is Fake," 11 July 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

12 Oct 2018

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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