[mot-lee] Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for john motley


  1. made up of elements of varying type, quality, etc
  2. multicoloured
  1. a motley collection or mixture
  2. the particoloured attire of a jester
  3. obsolete a jester

Word Origin for motley

C14: perhaps from mot speck, mote 1
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 john motley



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