mo·​tu | \ ˈmō(ˌ)tü \
plural motu or motus

Definition of motu

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a Polynesian reef islet with vegetation
Mo·​tu | \ ˈmō(ˌ)tü \
plural Motu or Motus

Definition of Motu (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a Melanesian people in New Guinea
b : a member of such people
2 : the language of the Motu people used in trade on the southeast coast of Papua New Guinea

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

History and Etymology for motu

Noun (1)

Maori, Tahitian, Tuamotuan, Marquesan, Samoan, & Tongan

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about motu

Statistics for motu

Cite this Entry

“Motu.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

Comments on motu

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!