from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A recurrent thematic element in an artistic or literary work.
- n. A dominant theme or central idea.
- n. Music A short rhythmic or melodic passage that is repeated or evoked in various parts of a composition.
- n. A repeated figure or design in architecture or decoration. See Synonyms at figure.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A recurring or dominant element; a theme.
- n. A short melodic passage that is repeated in several parts of a work
- n. A decorative figure that is repeated in a design
- n. The physical object or objects repeated at each point of a lattice. Usually atoms or molecules.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Motive.
- n. In literature and the fine arts, a salient feature or element of a composition or work; esp., the theme, or central or dominant feature
- n. A decorative appliqué design or figure, as of lace or velvet, used in trimming; also, a repeated design.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A Middle English form of motive.
- n. [F.] A datum, theme, or ground for intellectual action: used as French.
- n. [F.] In music:
- n. A figure.
- n. A subject or theme, particularly one that recurs often in a dramatic work as a leading subject.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary or artistic work
- n. a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music
- n. a design or figure that consists of recurring shapes or colors, as in architecture or decoration
French, from Old French, motive; see motive.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French motif (1848), with the meaning of main idea or theme (Wiktionary)