Definitions

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

  • n. Texas A copse or small stand of trees on a prairie.
  • n. Upper Southern U.S. A tuft of human or animal hair standing up on the head or body.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a raised earth mound, often topped with a wooden or stone structure and surrounded with a ditch
  • n. A clump of trees in a prairie.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A clump of trees in a prairie.

Etymologies

American Spanish mata, from Spanish, shrub, probably from Late Latin matta, mat; see mat1.
From French, from Old French mote, mound.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French motte ("mound, hillcock"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In riding about the range it was very pleasant to find, as one constantly did, by the side of some "motte" (Texan for a considerable cluster of scrub growth), or beneath the shade of a great live-oak, or on the barren face of a divide, the little canvas A-tents of the herders, nestled cosily to circular pens for the sheep, and generally surrounded by brush to prevent the intrusion of inquisitive cattle.

    Lippincott's Magazine, October 1885

  • By virtue of the same right, if the demesne of a lord was so placed that it had no natural height from which to survey its extent, his vassals were made to bring sufficient cart-loads of earth to raise a mound or "motte" of the requisite elevation.

    Brittany & Its Byways

  • After passing over a hilly road we crossed a marsh which extends from Carentan to the sea, and reached a town called La Haye-du-Puits — a singular name derived from the custom in the middle ages of surrounding the "motte" or enclosure upon which the donjon was built, with a wooden palisade, or sometimes with a thick hedge formed of thorns and branches of trees interlaced: hence La Haye-du-Puits, La Haye-Pesnel, and others.

    Brittany & Its Byways

  • Its ruined castle, dating from the end of the fourteenth century, with its lofty octagonal donjon, nearly a hundred feet high, standing on a high "motte" or artificial mound, has a most imposing appearance.

    Brittany & Its Byways

  • The "motte" at which the cibolero had arrived was far apart from any of the others, and commanded a view of the river bottom on both sides for more than a mile's distance.

    The White Chief A Legend of Northern Mexico

  • Near them was a small "motte" of the _Nerium oleander_, a shrub about twelve feet high, loaded with beautiful blossoms.

    The Giraffe Hunters

  • "droit de motte," which empowered them, if a vassal (they were "serfs de motte") attempted to live out of his demesne, or to enter the service of another lord, to bring him back to his "motte," a cord round his neck, and inflict upon him corporal punishment.

    Brittany & Its Byways

  • This page unsportingly suggests that the mound is a 13th-century motte which had nothing to do with Pepin, but I'll take my romance where I can find it, thanks.

    Dental development

  • October 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm teh cassel motte iz teh arfi–artyf– fake hill teh caslol uz bilt awn aifinkso.

    I can’t feel my butt. - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

  • We (royal again) reinstated most of the lawn areas last year from over-ambitious but failed vegetable plots and currently the direction of the mown stripes is being laboured over, this in true Alan Clark motte and bailey style.

    40 entries from May 2007

Comments

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  • "The simple motte and bailey the Conqueror had built to guard the river crossing had gone, its wooden palisade replaced by curtain walls, its keep grown into the accommodation, church, stables, mews, barracks, women's quarters, kitchens, laundry, vegetable and herb gardens, dairy, tiltyards, and gallows and lockup necessary for a sheriff administering a sizable, prosperous town."
    Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, p 141 of the Berkley paperback edition

    February 27, 2012

  • Also a grove or clump of trees in prairie land or open country.

    January 12, 2009

  • An artificial or improved natural mound on which a castle was built. See also motte-and-bailey.

    For more detail: "An artificial round mound on which in the original Norman castles a wooden (later, stone) keep was constructed. Outside of this was an embanked bailey containing the great hall, stables, chapel, kitchen, etc. These were easily and cheaply constructed (they conscripted the local peasants to do the digging) by the Normans to subdue the native populace after the Conquest."

    August 25, 2008