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[mot-oh] /ˈmɒt oʊ/
noun, plural mottoes, mottos.
a maxim adopted as an expression of the guiding principle of a person, organization, city, etc.
a sentence, phrase, or word expressing the spirit or purpose of a person, organization, city, etc., and often inscribed on a badge, banner, etc.
1580-90; < Italian < Late Latin muttum sound, utterance. See mot Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mottoes
  • But this endearing movie's mottoes are: never stop caring.
  • On the sides of the canopy the putti hold open books with inscribed mottoes.
  • Every state has its own symbols, such as flags, mottoes and songs.
  • Signs with tough mottoes remind inmates that they are in shock incarceration.
  • Two over-riding mottoes have kept me out of trouble.
  • Describes the varied subject matter, ranging from the arts to nature and including many state mottoes.
  • These are in the nature of mottoes and sayings, which rarely reach the dignity.
British Dictionary definitions for mottoes


noun (pl) -toes, -tos
a short saying expressing the guiding maxim or ideal of a family, organization, etc, esp when part of a coat of arms
a short explanatory phrase inscribed on or attached to something
a verse or maxim contained in a paper cracker
a quotation prefacing a book or chapter of a book
a recurring musical phrase
Word Origin
C16: via Italian from Latin muttum utterance
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mottoes



1580s, from Italian motto "a saying, legend attached to a heraldic design," from Late Latin muttum "grunt, word," from Latin muttire "to mutter, mumble, murmur" (see mutter).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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