- 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.
Origin of motif
Examples from the Web for motifs
The motifs were a reminder of what changed for women in the 1920s.Paris's Craziest Show Yet: Manish Arora Spring/ Summer 2014
September 26, 2013
Over about 10 years, Mozart voraciously incorporated different styles and motifs and developed his own voice.The Myth of Innate Genius
May 13, 2011
Introduced in 2000, the ring combined two timeless Bulgari motifs: the Tubogas and the “BVLGARI” logo.Wearable Art
Daily Beast Promotions
May 19, 2010
The motifs of these operas are sentiment, tragedy, and humour.The Complete Opera Book
He worked at an overture which had originated out of the motifs of Bermann's opera.The Road to the Open
Then she added, "As I was deprived of the evening, will you not let me hear some of the motifs of the opera?"My Recollections
But her motifs were now taken from history, not actual life.Women Novelists of Queen Victoria's Reign
Mrs. [Margaret] Oliphant
The eighteenth century was apparently coquetting only with Eastern motifs.Musical Portraits
- 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 and History for motifs
"theme, predominant feature," 1848, from French motif "dominant idea, theme" (see motive).
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.