AskDefine | Define motto

Dictionary Definition

motto n : a favorite saying of a sect or political group [syn: slogan, catchword, shibboleth] [also: mottoes (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Motto



motto (a word, a saying), muttum (a mutter, a grunt).



  1. A sentence, phrase, or word, forming part of an heraldic achievement.
  2. 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.
    "It was the motto of a bishop eminent for his piety and good works, ... Serve God, and be cheerful." -Addison.


  • Czech: motto
  • Finnish: motto, tunnuslause
  • German: Motto
  • Spanish: lema
  • Portuguese: lema



  1. A sentence or a phrase with guiding principle.



  1. more

Extensive Definition

A motto (from the Italian word motto, meaning witticism, sentence) is a phrase meant to formally describe the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. A motto may be in any language, but Latin is the most used. The local language is usual in the mottos of governments.


In heraldry, a motto is often depicted in an achievement of arms typically on a scroll below the shield or else above the crest as in Scots heraldry.
In English and Scottish heraldry mottoes are not granted with armorial bearings, and may be adopted and changed at will. Although very unusual and perhaps outside regular heraldic practice, there are some examples of the particular appearance of the motto scroll and letters thereon being blazoned.
A canting motto is one that contains word play. For example, the motto of the Earl of Onslow is Festina lente, punningly interpreting on-slow (literally "make haste slowly").
The motto of the County of Somerset is in Anglo-Saxon; that of South Cambridgeshire in the English Fens is in Dutch.
Ships and submarines in the Royal Navy each have a badge and motto, as do units of the Royal Air Force.


motto in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Дэвіз
motto in Bosnian: Uzrečica
motto in Catalan: Lema
motto in Czech: Motto
motto in Danish: Motto
motto in German: Wahlspruch
motto in Esperanto: Moto
motto in Spanish: Lema
motto in Persian: شعار
motto in French: Devise (phrase)
motto in Galician: Lema
motto in Croatian: Krilatica
motto in Indonesian: Motto
motto in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Motto
motto in Icelandic: Kjörorð
motto in Italian: Motto
motto in Hebrew: מוטו
motto in Georgian: დევიზი
motto in Hungarian: Mottó
motto in Lingala: Liloba-lotómo
motto in Latvian: Devīze
motto in Dutch: Motto
motto in Japanese: 標語
motto in Norwegian: Motto
motto in Norwegian Nynorsk: Motto
motto in Polish: Motto
motto in Portuguese: Lema
motto in Russian: Девиз
motto in Simple English: Motto
motto in Slovak: Motto
motto in Slovenian: Moto
motto in Serbo-Croatian: Krilatica
motto in Finnish: Tunnuslause
motto in Swedish: Valspråk
motto in Tagalog: Motto
motto in Thai: คำขวัญ
motto in Turkish: Slogan
motto in Ukrainian: Девіз
motto in Chinese: 座右銘

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

achievement, adage, alerion, ana, analects, animal charge, annulet, aphorism, apophthegm, apothegm, argent, armorial bearings, armory, arms, axiom, azure, bandeau, banner, banner head, bar, bar sinister, baton, battle cry, bearings, bend, bend sinister, billet, blazon, blazonry, bordure, broad arrow, byword, cadency mark, canton, caption, catchword, chaplet, charge, chevron, chief, coat of arms, cockatrice, collected sayings, coronet, crescent, crest, cross, cross moline, crown, cry, current saying, device, dictate, dictum, difference, differencing, distich, drop head, dropline, eagle, epigram, epigraph, epithet, ermine, ermines, erminites, erminois, escutcheon, expression, falcon, fess, fess point, field, file, flanch, fleur-de-lis, fret, fur, fusil, garland, gnome, golden saying, griffin, guide, gules, gyron, hanger, hatchment, head, heading, headline, helmet, heraldic device, honor point, impalement, impaling, inescutcheon, inscription, jump head, label, legend, lion, lozenge, mantling, marshaling, martlet, mascle, maxim, metal, moral, mot, mullet, nombril point, octofoil, or, oracle, ordinary, orle, overline, pale, paly, pean, pheon, phrase, pithy saying, precept, prescript, principle, proverb, proverbial saying, proverbs, purpure, quarter, quartering, rallying cry, rose, rubric, rule, running head, running title, sable, saltire, saw, saying, scarehead, screamer, scutcheon, sentence, sententious expression, shibboleth, shield, slogan, sloka, spread, spread eagle, spreadhead, stock saying, streamer, subhead, subheading, subordinary, subtitle, superscription, sutra, tag line, teaching, tenne, text, tincture, title, title page, torse, tressure, unicorn, vair, verse, vert, war cry, watchword, wisdom, wisdom literature, wise saying, witticism, word, words of wisdom, wreath, yale
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1