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[moht-l, moh-til]
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  1. Biology. moving or capable of moving spontaneously: motile cells; motile spores.

Origin of motile

1860–65; < Latin mōt(us) (past participle of movēre to move, set in motion) + -ile
Related formsmo·til·i·ty [moh-til-i-tee] /moʊˈtɪl ɪ ti/, nounnon·mo·tile, adjectivenon·mo·til·i·ty, nounsu·per·mo·til·i·ty, nounun·mo·tile, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for motility

Historical Examples

  • The motility of the face, head, and neck was not noticeably impaired.

    Arteriosclerosis and Hypertension:

    Louis Marshall Warfield

  • They have their cells boxed in by cellulose walls, so that their opportunities for motility are greatly restricted.

  • Their cells have not cellulose walls, nor in most cases much wall of any kind, and motility in the majority is unrestricted.

  • It is by traversing its scope of motility that the mind finds out what the norms of logic are.

    The Mystery of Space

    Robert T. Browne

  • Accordingly he is convinced that that stage is the final consideration of his scope of motility.

    The Mystery of Space

    Robert T. Browne

British Dictionary definitions for motility


  1. capable of moving spontaneously and independently
  1. psychol a person whose mental imagery strongly reflects movement, esp his own
Derived Formsmotility (məʊˈtɪlɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin

C19: from Latin mōtus moved, from movēre to move
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

Word Origin and History for motility


"capacity of movement," 1827, from French motilité (1827), from Latin mot-, stem of movere "to move" (see move (v.)).



"capable of movement," 1831, back-formation from motility.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

motility in Medicine


([object Object])
  1. Moving or having the power to move spontaneously.
  2. Of or relating to mental imagery that arises primarily from sensations of bodily movement and position rather than from visual or auditory sensations.
Related formsmo•tili•ty (mō-tĭlĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

motility in Science


[mōtl, mōtīl′]
  1. Moving or able to move by itself. Sperm and certain spores are motile.
Related formsmotility noun (mō-tĭlĭ-tē)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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