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

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 According to The Capital Gazette, it's become something of a tradition for the captains of Navy's football team to choose a motto for a season. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Navy football drops 'inappropriate and insensitive' team motto in wake of shooting," 3 Aug. 2019 Each bag is handmade from leather and can be customized with a name, date and motto. Tara Paniogue,, "Stylish life hacks for new parents," 11 July 2019 Louisiana isn't alone in requiring the motto to be displayed in public schools. Kelly Mccleary, CNN, "'In God We Trust' signs to greet Louisiana students in new school year," 11 Aug. 2019 Let today's garbage be better than yesterday’s, is my motto. Ryan Asselta,, "A Quick Nine With Bryson DeChambeau," 7 Aug. 2019 Our motto is that there are no accidents, only reasons. Anya Leon,, "American Idol Alum Josh Gracin Expecting Baby Boy with Wife Katie: We're 'Beyond Excited'," 10 July 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

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


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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