from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The act or process of changing position or place.
  • noun A meaningful or expressive change in the position of the body or a part of the body; a gesture.
  • noun Active operation.
  • noun The ability or power to move.
  • noun The manner in which the body moves, as in walking.
  • noun A prompting from within; an impulse or inclination.
  • noun Music Melodic ascent and descent of pitch.
  • noun Law An application made to a court for an order or a ruling.
  • noun A formal proposal put to the vote under parliamentary procedures.
  • noun A mechanical device or piece of machinery that moves or causes motion; a mechanism.
  • noun The movement or action of such a device.
  • intransitive verb To direct by making a gesture.
  • intransitive verb To indicate by making a gesture; signal.
  • intransitive verb To make a motion (that something should happen).
  • intransitive verb To signal by making a gesture.
  • idiom (go through the motions) To do something in a mechanical manner indicative of a lack of interest or involvement.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Change of place; transition from one point or position in space to another; continuous variation of position: used both concretely, for a single change of position, and abstractly, to denote such change considered as a character belonging to the moving body, and also generally for a class of phenomena.
  • noun The power of moving; ability to change one's position.
  • noun Style or manner of moving; carriage.
  • noun In astronomy, angular velocity; amount of angular movement, especially the rate of movement of a heavenly body in longitude: as, the mean daily motion of the sun is 3548″.
  • noun In mech., any mechanism for modifying the movement in a machine, or for making certain parts change their positions in certain ways; also, the action of such mechanism: as, the slide-valve motion of an engine; heart-motion in spinning-machines, etc.
  • noun A puppet, or a similar figure mechanically moved; also, a puppet-show.
  • noun In philosophy, any change: a translation of κίνησις.
  • noun A natural impulse, as of the senses, but especially of the mind or soul; tendency of desires or passions; mental agitation.
  • noun Animal life; the faculty of automatic movement and sensation or feeling; the exercise of such faculty; something which usually belongs equally to soul and body, though occasionally confined to one or the other.
  • noun Inclination; disposition; impulse; will: as, of one's own motion.
  • noun Proposal; instigation; incitement.
  • noun A proposal or proposition formally made; specifically, a proposal formally submitted in a deliberative assembly, with a view to its discussion and adoption; also, the act of submitting such a proposal: as, the motion to appoint a committee was carried.
  • noun In law:
  • noun An application to a court or judge, usually in the course of a legal proceeding. Whatever is asked of a court by a suitor is asked by a motion.
  • noun More narrowly, an application which is incidental to the progress of a cause, as distinguished from the trial or investigation of the issue: as, a motion for an injunction; a motion to open a default.
  • noun In some of the United States, the paper drawn up by the attorney of the moving party, saying, “now comes the plaintiff (or defendant),” etc., “and moves,” etc. (much in the same way that an application to the court would be entered in the minutes), and filed with the clerk in advance of applying to the court, and usually also served on the other party.
  • noun In music:
  • noun The melodic change of a voice or voice-part from one pitch to another; melodic progression.
  • noun The melodic progression of any two voice-parts in harmonic writing in relation to each other.
  • noun In the fine arts, the change of place or position which, from the attitude represented, a figure is portrayed as making.
  • noun In medicine, evacuation of the intestine; alvine discharge.
  • noun In military tactics, one of the stages into which each movement prescribed in the manual of arms is divided to facilitate instruction.
  • noun In music. See direct.
  • noun In music. See def. 14 .
  • noun The mode of motion of such a machine.
  • noun By a popular abuse of the term, a movement or machine which could go on indefinitely by its own self-generated power. Thus, if a man should pretend to have a wheel which turned upon its bearings without resistance, so that it would go on moving indefinitely, or to have a fluid which, though viscous, was frictionless, so that its motion, though continually decreasing, never came to rest, neither claim would be a claim to a perpetual motion, nor (however unfounded) would it violate any fundamental principle of mechanics. On the other hand, a machine (such as has actually been proposed) which would not go on moving of itself forever, but would require a little external force to overcome friction, but which with that little force should be capable of doing an indefinite amount of work, would, properly speaking, be a perpetual motion.
  • noun Synonyms Motion, Movement, Move. Motion may be considered separate from that which moves; movement is always connected with the person or thing moving: hence we speak of the laws of motion; of heat as a mode of motion; and of perpetual motion — not of movement in any of these cases; hence, also, motion is the more scientific and technical term. Motion is more general and more voluntary; movement, more particular and occasional: hence we speak of a motion with the hand; a movement of troops; involuntary movements; the movements of the heavenly bodies: the rate of motion or of movement. The figurative uses of the two correspond to the literal. The chief uses of move are founded upon the idea of moving a piece, in chess or a similar game, for winning the game.
  • noun In geometry, a reversible unique transformation of the aggregate of all points into itself.
  • noun A forward and backward motion, used in connection with something that has a distinct, front and rear.
  • noun A motion parallel to the keel of a vessel.
  • To guide by a significant motion or gesture, as with the hand or head: as, to motion a person to a seat.
  • To propose; move.
  • To make a significant movement or gesture, as with the hand or head: as, to motion to one to take a seat.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English mocioun, from Old French motion, from Latin mōtiō, mōtiōn-, from mōtus, past participle of movēre, to move; see meuə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman motion, mocion, Middle French motion, and their source, Latin motio ("movement, motion").


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  • action of truth

    July 23, 2009

  • "In mech., any mechanism for modifying the movement in a machine, or for making certain parts change their positions in certain ways; also, the action of such mechanism: as, the slide-valve motion of an engine; heart-motion in spinning-machines, etc."

    -- Century Dictionary

    November 7, 2013