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

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 The motto began to take root as the Chargers were ripping the Browns in Cleveland, beating the Tennessee Titans in London and holding off the Seahawks in Seattle. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "Chargers face Lions embracing the pressure of defending their NFL road warrior title," 14 Sep. 2019 With the opening last month of Oodi, the barrier-breaking Helsinki Central Library, one of Europe’s most design-conscious countries has a library that matches that motto, as well as one which reflects its democratic ambitions. Gordon F. Sander, The Christian Science Monitor, "Welcome to Oodi: Helsinki’s new ‘living room’," 24 Jan. 2019 Two other decals are on the back of their helmets, each a different logo of the city’s motto after the massacre: El Paso Strong. Los Angeles Times, "El Paso team travels to shooter’s backyard for a game that brings unity, if not a Hollywood ending," 9 Sep. 2019 Apparently, the issue is that having Standish’s arm with the sword and the motto are offensive in that Standish is viewed as having treacherously murdered Native Americans, including Pecksuot., "Should Massachusetts replace its state flag?," 7 Sep. 2019 The new motto for mindset science, then, seems to be this: tone down the hype and hone the details. Lydia Denworth, Scientific American, "Debate Arises over Teaching “Growth Mindsets” to Motivate Students," 12 Aug. 2019

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 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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involving a confidence or trust

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