from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A melodic passage or phrase, especially in Wagnerian opera, associated with a specific character, situation, or element.
- n. A dominant and recurring theme, as in a novel.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A melodic theme associated with a particular character, place, thing or idea in an opera.
- n. A recurring theme.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. a guiding theme; in Wagnerian opera, a marked melodic phrase or short musical passage which always accompanies the reappearance of a certain person, situation, abstract idea, or allusion in the course of the play; a sort of musical label. Also called Leading motive.
- n. a recurring theme in the activities of a person or group.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a melodic phrase that accompanies the reappearance of a person or situation (as in Wagner's operas)
German Leitmotiv : leiten, to lead (from Middle High German, from Old High German leitan; see leit- in Indo-European roots) + Motiv, motif (from French motif; see motif).(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From German Leitmotiv ("leading motive"), from leiten ("to lead") + Motiv ("motive"), originally used to describe Wagnerian opera. (Wiktionary)