- exhibiting great diversity of elements: a motley crowd.
- being of different colors combined: a motley flower border.
- wearing a parti-colored garment: a motley fool.
Origin of motley
- John Lo·throp [loh-thruh p] /ˈloʊ θrəp/, 1814–77, U.S. historian and diplomat.
Examples from the Web for motley
A motley crew of former sailors led by Commodore Joshua Barney mounted the only real resistance to the British.The Presidential Hopeful Obsessed With the War of 1812
September 9, 2014
Well, it was based on an amalgam of bands—Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, and Van Halen.Rob Reiner on the State of Romcoms, ‘The Princess Bride’s’ Alternate Ending, and the Red Viper
July 27, 2014
A motley crew, to be sure: Islamic states, sub-Saharan Africa, China.At the United Nations, It’s Human Rights, Putin-Style
June 26, 2014
The motley crew cast participates in an illegal cross-country car race, while doing anything to win.10 Greatest Road Trip Movies
May 21, 2014
And a motley cast of characters—is that a guy in a chicken costume?Comedians For Diplomacy: 'Give Peace a Dance'
September 24, 2013
I trust not the varlet with whom I bartered it for my motley.The Armourer's Prentices
Charlotte M. Yonge
I mingled with the motley throng, my ears alert for any spoken opinions.The Underdog
F. Hopkinson Smith
The motley passengers were all sound asleep; no one had been disturbed by the fracas.
Hundreds of them there were, men of all races and planets, a motley crew.
The scene was changed now; the whole room was a mob—“motley the only wear.”The First Violin
- made up of elements of varying type, quality, etc
- a motley collection or mixture
- the particoloured attire of a jester
- obsolete a jester
Word Origin and History for 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.