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 But the motto pushed by the Buckeyes lately isn’t #scheme. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "Ohio State assistant Al Washington showed with a sideline hug what Michigan lost and the Buckeyes gained," 25 Nov. 2019 The same motto is the Braves’ official hashtag on Twitter. Maria Torres, Los Angeles Times, "Braves cut back on ‘tomahawk chop’ after Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley complains," 9 Oct. 2019 Back at [previous office] there was more of a motto of getting the work done in the time needed and then go home. Rachel Morrison, Quartz at Work, "How open-plan offices work against women," 9 Oct. 2019 Their motto is all are welcome at the dining hall that’s open to the community. Vincent T. Davis,, "Downtown San Antonio church turns after-concert luncheon into ministry," 12 Nov. 2019 That is the longstanding motto for CBS’ reality show Big Brother, currently in its 21st season (along with an additional season for CBS All Access and two celebrity installments). Dalton Ross,, "Dan's funeral: An oral history of the greatest Big Brother moment ever," 29 Aug. 2019 For many, this sentiment is the unofficial motto of Jamaica. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, "Black Travel Vibes: Feel Irie On An Escape To Jamaica," 29 Aug. 2019 Molon labe is the motto of multiple military units, most notably the United States Special Operations Command Central. Myke Cole, The New Republic, "The Sparta Fetish Is a Cultural Cancer," 1 Aug. 2019 The motto soon could become more common in Alabama schools, reported, with legal challenges expected to follow. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Alabama public schools may soon add 'In God We Trust' displays," 12 Aug. 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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Time Traveler for motto

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Motto.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for motto


How to pronounce motto (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for motto

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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delight or enjoyment

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