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
In Romanticism, the ruin motif is expressed and interpreted in various ways; here the literal ruin or monument, there the figurative ruin of the self, and elsewhere still the formalistic ruin of the Romantic fragment poem, with all of its unsettled meaning.
The nameless gunslinger motif is taken to a very grizzly place as Jonah Hex is shown as a remorseless bounty hunter with a notoriety that instills fear and anger among the folks he meets.
The “new woman” motif is announced in London's description of Grace's efficiency:
The novel's central motif comes from the tale of Orpheus, the great musician of Greek mythology, who charmed his way into the underworld and begged the gods with music to bring his wife back to life.
Also note: I doubt this was intentional in the Pledge but the One God to Two Goddesses motif is actually also found as the Second Capitoline Triad, though the choice of goddesses was different.
If a certain typeface or a certain motif is considered inappropriate because it looks unprofessional, no professional artist/designer would use them.
A familiar motif is that they operate at the very fringes of perception.
A common motif is the double water-gourd design, also woven into belts, where it gives the impression of snake skins.
The butterfly motif is reminiscent of Itzpapalotl (the Obsidian Butterfly), a principal deity of the classical Aztecs, whom the Huichols claim as their ancestors.
While I believe Mr. Wingo's "choice" motif is a valuable one, I believe Mr. Barton makes some very important points: