Word of the Day : November 18, 2014

leitmotif

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noun LYTE-moh-teef

Definition

1 : a melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation in a music drama

2 : a dominant recurring theme

Did You Know?

The English word leitmotif (or leitmotiv, as it is also spelled) comes from the German Leitmotiv, meaning "leading motive" and formed from leiten ("to lead") and Motiv ("motive"). In its original sense, the word applies to opera music and was first used by writers interpreting the works of composer Richard Wagner, who was famous for associating a melody with a character or important dramatic element. Leitmotif is still commonly used with reference to music and musical drama but is now also used more broadly to refer to any recurring theme in the arts or in everyday life.


Examples

The overcoming of obstacles and a love of theater are the two leitmotifs of her autobiography.

"'Collaboration' is the author's supporting theme, and he weaves it in throughout his anecdotes and character studies. Approached lazily, this kind of leitmotif would be more irritating than illuminating, but Isaacson fully commits." - James Norton, The Christian Science Monitor, October 13, 2014



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