The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A motto is a phrase or collection of words intended to describe the motivation or intention of a sociological grouping or organization. Many countries, universities, and other institutions have mottos, as do families with coats of arms.

These mottos are traditionally in Latin or Romance languages, as well as in English or German. There are many exceptions, particularly in modern heraldry: for examples, the mottos of the State of Hawai‘i and the University of Hawai‘i are in Hawaiian, and the motto of Nunavut is in Inuktitut, while in England the motto of the County of Somerset is written in Anglo-Saxon.

A canting motto is one that contains wordplay. For example, the motto of the Earl of Onslow is Festina lente, punningly interpreting on-slow.

In heraldry, a motto is often depicted in a coat of arms, typically on a scroll under the arms, or else above it as in Scots heraldry.

A motto may also be a short quotation, joke or anecdote contained in a Christmas cracker.

In music a motto is a melodic section larger than a motif and may appear at the beginning and often just before the end of a musical composition.

See also

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