mot·​to ˈmä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce motto (audio)
plural mottoes also mottos
: 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.
: 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 Tatcha Water Cream Life is about balance, a motto understood and applied by Tatcha’s Water Cream. Anamaria Glavan, Allure, 19 Nov. 2023 She’s strived to live by that motto ever since his death. Valentina Valentini, Condé Nast Traveler, 13 Nov. 2023 Dante lived that motto himself, the quarterback running extra laps after youth football games while observers laughed. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep. 2023 In the spirit of that motto, the residents of the harbor town on the Long Island Sound should elect Jack Fowler as city clerk on November 7. Nr Editors, National Review, 20 Oct. 2023 The line, which could stand as a motto for the whole movie, is spoken by a writer, Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller), in a chalet in the Alps. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 6 Oct. 2023 The more pasta, the better: This is a motto any foodie is happy to live by—including the Barefoot Contessa queen herself, Ina Garten. Christianna Silva, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Sep. 2023 Kate Middleton has a new style motto: Eat, sleep, pantsuit, repeat! Monique Jessen, Peoplemag, 28 Sep. 2023 This is where my family’s motto of making something out of nothing helped a lot. Jenn Torres,, 13 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'motto.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near motto

Cite this Entry

“Motto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


mot·​to ˈmät-ō How to pronounce motto (audio)
plural mottoes also mottos
: a sentence, phrase, or word inscribed on something (as a coin or public building) to suggest its use or nature
: a short expression of a guiding rule of conduct
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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