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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for motet

Historical Examples of motet

  • 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 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

British Dictionary definitions for motet



a polyphonic choral composition used as an anthem in the Roman Catholic service

Word Origin for motet

C14: from Old French, diminutive of mot word; see mot 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 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