Definition of motto in English:

motto

noun

  • 1A short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals of an individual, family, or institution.

    ‘the family motto is ‘Faithful though Unfortunate’’
    • ‘Another of Mr Carless's mottos was ‘work hard, play hard’ - and his son remembers him doing plenty of both.’
    • ‘In a previous incarnation he was, for nine years, a finance company manager and learned all the mottos, moves and role-playing games.’
    • ‘But logic requires that he extend the idea of a motto beyond the schools and into other public institutions.’
    • ‘I can see why Mr Cruickshank, in his speech, forwent those inspirational Latin mottos, per ardua ad astra, fides et robur etc. and decided, instead, to be controversial.’
    • ‘His family motto epitomises the Giffards' traditional love of hunting.’
    • ‘I don't think many people beyond the soldiers serving in those regiments would be able to tell you their regimental mottoes, so they are not distinctively military in use.’
    • ‘This accounts for another of his framed mottos: ‘Plan it right and make it happen.’’
    • ‘Above a door he spots a shield with the Montgomerie family motto - ‘Guard Yourself Well’.’
    • ‘That was the motto adopted for the celebrations of the century.’
    • ‘One of her mottoes was, never lose your sense of humor.’
    • ‘With mottos like ‘Another World is Possible’, people from every continent are finding ways to exchange experiences and ideas on how the state of the world can be improved.’
    • ‘One of the camp mottoes is ‘conflict is inevitable, violence is not.’’
    • ‘Mark and I have also developed many skills over the years so make do and mend is a bit of a family motto.’
    • ‘According to Charlie Croft, one of the mottoes of the new partnership, which held its first meeting earlier this month, is: ‘Comfortable is not enough.’’
    • ‘I think America should adopt the motto of one of my heroes, General Vinegar Joe Stillwell.’
    • ‘‘Where Litter Lies Beauty Dies’ and ‘Together We Can Make It Happen’ are two common mottos adopted by Clonaslee Tidy Towns committee and they hope all locals will join in the campaign to beat litter.’
    • ‘Most crest mottos consist of an inspiring phrase written in Latin.’
    • ‘His views did not win general support, even within the association, which, however, later adopted the phrase as a motto.’
    • ‘If they were ever to go in for mottos, though, theirs would probably be something like: ‘Think local, act global.’’
    • ‘Assuming that to be the case, all connected with the sport will hope the Baxter family motto proves accurate.’
    • ‘Last week that phrase had become the defining motto and operating credo for the military and foreign policy of the Bush administration.’
    maxim, saying, proverb, aphorism, adage, saw, axiom, formula, expression, phrase, rule, dictum, precept, epigram, gnome
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  • 2Music
    A phrase which recurs throughout a musical work and has some symbolical significance.

    ‘they were developing the use of leitmotifs or mottoes that appear throughout an opera’
    • ‘Elgar rarely states the motto in full, and yet its presence haunts the entire work.’

Origin

Late 16th century: from Italian, ‘word’.

Pronunciation

motto

/ˈmɒtəʊ/