[ moh-shuhn ]
See synonyms for motion on
  1. the action or process of moving or of changing place or position; movement.

  2. power of movement, as of a living body.

  1. the manner of moving the body in walking; gait.

  2. a bodily movement or change of posture; gesture.

  3. a proposal formally made to a deliberative assembly: to make a motion to adjourn.

  4. Law. an application made to a court or judge for an order, ruling, or the like.

  5. a suggestion or proposal.

  6. an inward prompting or impulse; inclination: He will go only of his own motion.

  7. Music. melodic progression, as the change of a voice part from one pitch to another.

  8. Machinery.

    • a piece of mechanism with a particular action or function.

    • the action of such a mechanism.

verb (used with object)
  1. to direct by a significant motion or gesture, as with the hand: to motion a person to a seat.

verb (used without object)
  1. to make a meaningful motion, as with the hand; gesture; signal: to motion to someone to come.

Idioms about motion

  1. go through the motions, to do something halfheartedly, routinely, or as a formality or façade.

  2. in motion, in active operation; moving: The train was already in motion when he tried to board it.

Origin of motion

First recorded before 1350–1400; Middle English mocio(u)n, from Latin mōtiōn- (stem of mōtiō), equivalent to mōt(us) (past participle of movēremove) + -iōn--ion

synonym study For motion

1. Motion, move, movement refer to change of position in space. Motion denotes change of position, either considered apart from, or as a characteristic of, something that moves; usually the former, in which case it is often a somewhat technical or scientific term: perpetual motion. The chief uses of move are founded upon the idea of moving a piece, in chess or a similar game, for winning the game, and hence the word denotes any change of position, condition, or circumstances for the accomplishment of some end: a shrewd move to win votes. Movement is always connected with the person or thing moving, and is usually a definite or particular motion: the movements of a dance.

Other words for motion

Other words from motion

  • mo·tion·al, adjective
  • mo·tion·er, noun
  • in·ter·mo·tion, noun
  • non·mo·tion, noun
  • self-motion, noun
  • un·der·mo·tion, noun
  • un·mo·tioned, adjective
  • un·mo·tion·ing, adjective

Words Nearby motion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use motion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for motion (1 of 2)


/ (ˈməʊʃən) /

  1. the process of continual change in the physical position of an object; movement: linear motion Related adjective: kinetic

  2. a movement or action, esp of part of the human body; a gesture

    • the capacity for movement

    • a manner of movement, esp walking; gait

  1. a mental impulse

  2. a formal proposal to be discussed and voted on in a debate, meeting, etc

  3. law an application made to a judge or court for an order or ruling necessary to the conduct of legal proceedings

  4. British

    • the evacuation of the bowels

    • excrement

    • part of a moving mechanism

    • the action of such a part

  5. music the upward or downward course followed by a part or melody. Parts whose progressions are in the same direction exhibit similar motion, while two parts whose progressions are in opposite directions exhibit contrary motion: See also parallel (def. 3)

  6. go through the motions

    • to act or perform the task (of doing something) mechanically or without sincerity

    • to mimic the action (of something) by gesture

  7. in motion operational or functioning (often in the phrases set in motion, set the wheels in motion)

  1. (when tr, may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to signal or direct (a person) by a movement or gesture

Origin of motion

C15: from Latin mōtiō a moving, from movēre to move

Derived forms of motion

  • motional, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Motion (2 of 2)


/ (ˈməʊʃən) /

  1. Sir Andrew. born 1952, British poet and biographer; his collections include Pleasure Steamers (1978) and Public Property (2002): poet laureate (1999–2009)

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with motion


see go through the motions; set in motion; set the wheels in motion.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.