motif

[ moh-teef ]
/ moʊˈtif /

noun

a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., especially in a literary, artistic, or musical work.
a distinctive and recurring form, shape, figure, etc., in a design, as in a painting or on wallpaper.
a dominant idea or feature: the profit motif of free enterprise.

Nearby words

  1. motherwort,
  2. mothproof,
  3. moths,
  4. mothy,
  5. moti,
  6. motile,
  7. motility,
  8. motion,
  9. motion capture,
  10. motion picture

Origin of motif

From French, dating back to 1840–50; see origin at motive

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for motif


British Dictionary definitions for motif

motif

/ (məʊˈtiːf) /

noun

a distinctive idea, esp a theme elaborated on in a piece of music, literature, etc
Also: motive a recurring form or shape in a design or pattern
a single added piece of decoration, such as a symbol or name on a jumper, sweatshirt, etc

Word Origin for motif

C19: from French. See motive

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 motif

motif

n.

"theme, predominant feature," 1848, from French motif "dominant idea, theme" (see motive).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for motif

motif

[ (moh-teef) ]

In literature, art, or music, a recurring set of words, shapes, colors, or notes. In the poem “The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe, for example, the word nevermore is a motif appearing at the end of each stanza. Likewise, the first four notes of the Fifth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven are a motif that is developed and reshaped throughout the work.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.