spotted or blotched in coloring.

Origin of mottled

First recorded in 1670–80; mottle + -ed2
Related formsun·mot·tled, adjective



verb (used with object), mot·tled, mot·tling.

to mark or diversify with spots or blotches of a different color or shade.


a diversifying spot or blotch of color.
mottled coloring or pattern.

Origin of mottle

First recorded in 1670–80; probably back formation from motley
Related formsmot·tle·ment, nounmot·tler, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mottled

Contemporary Examples of mottled

  • The rich, mottled tones with which he crafted his portraits are less about creating mood than about rendering pure physicality.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Remembering Irving Penn

    Philip Gefter

    October 8, 2009

  • To many of those white-haired and mottled men, the ambassador's six-minute apology and the invitation to visit Japan were insults.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Healing the Wounds of Bataan

    Michael Norman

    September 19, 2009

  • The skin on my face and arms took on a mottled, yellowish appearance, like an old newspaper left out in the sun.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Was I Born Anorexic?

    Rachel Shukert

    April 16, 2009

Historical Examples of mottled

British Dictionary definitions for mottled



coloured with streaks or blotches of different shades



(tr) to colour with streaks or blotches of different shades


a mottled appearance, as of the surface of marble
one streak or blotch of colour in a mottled surface

Word Origin for mottle

C17: back formation from motley
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 mottled

1670s, past participle adjective; see mottle (v.).



1670s, probably a back-formation from motley.



1670s; see mottle (n.). Related: Mottled; mottling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper