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 This is the motto one comes up with when one is sporting the league’s worst defense, no Marshawn Lynch-like runner and a quarterbacking magician named Russell Wilson. Mark Craig, Star Tribune, "Saints are latest best team in the NFC but probably not the last," 14 Nov. 2020 Jim Fite, president and CEO, says adherence to this motto of overachievement gave the 83-year-old real estate brokerage a head start in dealing with the pandemic. Cheryl Hall, Dallas News, "Top 100 Places to Work winner CENTURY 21 Judge Fite didn’t miss a beat in pandemic," 12 Nov. 2020 That happens to be the motto of Dave Wasserman, the House editor for the Cook Political Report, who achieved internet cult status during the 2018 midterms. Los Angeles Times, "Move over, chartthrobs King, Kornacki. We’re watching these 10 election 2020 standouts," 6 Nov. 2020 Along with its distinctive ridges and gray Pelican brand decal at the top, the middle of the case also has a blue sticker with the station’s logo and motto. Washington Post, "A viral video implied a man was illegally moving ballots. It was a photographer and his equipment.," 5 Nov. 2020 Dawson’s motto of ‘family’ reverberates daily on campus, in practice, in the hallways, in meetings and on social media. Ted Dunnam, Chron, "Dawson's Allison eager to return from two-week quarantine," 24 Oct. 2020 In order to rebound, the Hurricanes (3-1, 2-1) can lean on an in-game motto as a microcosm of how to progress forward. David Furones,, "If UM wants another shot at Clemson at season’s end, the path begins Saturday vs. Pitt," 16 Oct. 2020 But the true motto of the 2020 Browns was coined much earlier than training camp. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "The Browns wanted alignment and they finally got it: Why the Browns are different this time," 9 Oct. 2020 That seems to be the motto at Gucci, the luxury Italian fashion house, which is now selling overalls designed to appear grass-stained for $1,400. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "$1,400 to spare? Gucci says grass-stained overalls 'blur the line between vintage and contemporary'," 21 Sep. 2020

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

20 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Motto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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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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