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 That has remained my motto for individual big-league ballgames. Star Tribune, "In Twins' victory over Pirates, unlikely pair force skeptics to say 'Youneverknow'," 24 Apr. 2021 The motto seemed both to acknowledge in advance his own guilt and to attempt to shift it onto others. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "‘Maniac’ Review: The Mad Butcher of Bath," 27 Apr. 2021 The acquisition appears to be in line with the chief executive’s motto. Deniz Çam, Forbes, "Squarespace Founder Is A Billionaire Ahead Of Direct Listing," 20 Apr. 2021 The motto is emblematic of Miller’s journey since coming back from the injury. Meghan Montemurro,, "Shelby Miller, once one of the best young pitchers in baseball, has a shot at helping the Chicago Cubs this year in a versatile role," 3 Mar. 2021 The club’s seriousness of purpose is reflected in its motto. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: Some in S.D. pleased when visitors go back home," 28 Mar. 2021 In keeping with their informal professional motto, many of them emphasized that their answers could change depending on circumstances. New York Times, "How 700 Epidemiologists Are Living Now, and What They Think Is Next," 4 Dec. 2020 The Suns have established a motto this season of concentrating on their play. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, "Suns focused on lowly Rockets before big-time back-to-back vs. Jazz, Clippers," 5 Apr. 2021 Bean restaurants have a wide variety of themes — German, burgers, fish, Japanese, contemporary American — but all have the same motto. Susan Dunne,, "Wurst Haus brings Oktoberfest vibe to West Hartford Center with German beer and food," 1 Apr. 2021

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

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Motto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for motto



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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