Definitions

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

  • n. A brief statement used to express a principle, goal, or ideal. See Synonyms at saying.
  • n. A sentence, phrase, or word of appropriate character inscribed on or attached to an object.
  • n. A maxim adopted as a guide to one's conduct.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sentence, phrase, or word, forming part of an heraldic achievement.
  • n. A sentence, phrase, or word, prefixed to an essay, discourse, chapter, canto, or the like, suggestive of its subject matter; a short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle; a maxim.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sentence, phrase, or word, forming part of an heraldic achievment.
  • n. A sentence, phrase, or word, prefixed to an essay, discourse, chapter, canto, or the like, suggestive of its subject matter; a short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle; a maxim.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A short pithy sentence or phrase, sometimes a single word, used to indicate the tenor of that to which it is attached (as an essay or a treatise), or adopted as expressive of one's guiding idea or principle, or appended to a device or a coat of arms.
  • n. The poetry or verse contained in a motto-kiss or paper cracker.
  • n. A motto-kiss.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a favorite saying of a sect or political group

Etymologies

Italian, word, motto, probably from Vulgar Latin *mōttum, word; see mot.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Italian motto (a word, a saying), Latin muttum (a mutter, a grunt). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The Latin motto is "audacia et prudentia" - courage and prudence.

    Joshua Memorial Stone: new

  • Let's face it...on the surface, the biggest thing happening in this town is the "Kanawha Kordsmen Barbershop Chorus" performing tonight at the "Clay Center for the Arts," & the town's motto is Latin for "Hey, we just got cable!"

    LOSTCasts 55: The Brig

  • Possibly in a bid to allay fears that nationalism and protectionism were driving the agenda--though it's hard to wonder how they couldn't in a country whose motto translates as "we wish to remain what we are"--a Luxembourg minister said on Tuesday that the takeover law, which it plans to enact in May, was in no way aimed at creating impediments to Mittal's play for Arcelor.

    Luxembourg Minister: We're Not Trying To Stop Mittal

  • The motto translates as "By Dilgence, Courage and Work" - the initials of the Latin rendering spelling an early form of the town's name, Ivel.

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  • I don't care much anymore, but my motto is the same ...

    Clinton says she expects lead in popular vote, primary delegates

  • Glad you like the title motto—Zelda sends best—Remember me to Ted.

    A Life in Letters

  • Very well, your motto is the advancement of the interests of Canada and a United Empire.

    Imperialism

  • I once know'd a Yankee who had what he called a motto, an 'it was this, ` Never give in,' xcept w'en yer wrong. '

    The Pioneers

  • And that's one of the reasons the team's motto is team torture, which their broadcaster, Duane Kuiper, came up with.

    Giants And Rangers Fans Talk Up Their Teams

  • Or as Chris aptly sums up, the motto is "catalyze and curate".

    Websites

Comments

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  • The longest common word that, when written in Morse code, consists entirely of dashes (10 of them, to be precise).

    --Will Shortz's intro to "Wordplay: A curious dictionary of language oddities" by Chris Cole.

    See also, sissies.

    May 17, 2008