Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

2017 Word of the Year

motley

[mot-lee] /ˈmɒt li/
adjective
1.
exhibiting great diversity of elements:
a motley crowd.
2.
being of different colors combined:
a motley flower border.
Antonyms: monochromatic; solid.
3.
wearing a parti-colored garment:
a motley fool.
noun, plural motleys.
4.
a combination of different colors.
5.
a parti-colored effect.
6.
the parti-colored garment of a jester.
7.
a heterogeneous assemblage.
Origin of motley
1350-1400
Middle English word dating back to 1350-1400; See origin at mote1, -ly

Motley

[mot-lee] /ˈmɒt li/
noun
1.
John Lothrop
[loh-thruh p] /ˈloʊ θrəp/ (Show IPA),
1814–77, U.S. historian and diplomat.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for motley
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I trust not the varlet with whom I bartered it for my motley.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • I mingled with the motley throng, my ears alert for any spoken opinions.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • The motley passengers were all sound asleep; no one had been disturbed by the fracas.

    Pirates of the Gorm Nat Schachner
  • Hundreds of them there were, men of all races and planets, a motley crew.

    Pirates of the Gorm Nat Schachner
  • The scene was changed now; the whole room was a mob—“motley the only wear.”

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
British Dictionary definitions for motley

motley

/ˈmɒtlɪ/
adjective
1.
made up of elements of varying type, quality, etc
2.
multicoloured
noun
3.
a motley collection or mixture
4.
the particoloured attire of a jester
5.
(obsolete) a jester
Word Origin
C14: perhaps from mot speck, mote1
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for motley
adj.

late 14c., "parti-colored" (originally of fabric), from Anglo-French motteley, probably from Old English mot "speck" (see mote). But Klein's sources say probably from Gaulish. "Diversified in color," especially of a fool's dress. Hence, allusively, "a fool" (1600). As a noun meaning "cloth of mixed color" from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for motley

Word Value for motley

11
12
Scrabble Words With Friends