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[moh-tet] /moʊˈtɛt/
noun, Music.
a vocal composition in polyphonic style, on a Biblical or similar prose text, intended for use in a church service.
Origin of motet
1350-1400; Middle English < Middle French; see mot, -et Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for motet
Historical Examples
  • The character and scope of the German motet are thus described by Spitta, vol.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • On no account would they use the organ to accompany a motet.

    The Boy's Voice J. Spencer Curwen
  • It is in contrapuntal style, like the motet, and is usually sung a capella.

  • A motet of Kuhnau's was given at Zittau under his direction.

    The Pianoforte Sonata J.S. Shedlock
  • The text is taken from the Old Testament, together with part of a hymn or a chorale, and Bach called it a motet.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • The order on this occasion was a prelude on the organ, then a motet, then the kyrie, which was preceded by a prelude on the organ.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • At vespers, the choir sang a motet, and the Magnificat in German, besides leading the congregation in some hymns.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • Madam Bruna, an Italian singer, sung the motet, and was well accompanied.

  • De Linant gave me words proper to the subject, and in a week after I had received them the motet was finished.

  • His master also of course made him write an enormous amount of vocal music, and he had to produce a motet every week.

British Dictionary definitions for motet


a polyphonic choral composition used as an anthem in the Roman Catholic service
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, diminutive of mot word; see mot1
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 motet

"choral composition on a sacred text," late 14c., from Old French motet (13c.), diminutive of mot "word" (see mot).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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