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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce motif (audio)

Dictionary definition of motif

A recurring theme, symbol, or idea in a work of art or literature.
"The motif of a broken heart is a recurring theme in love songs."

Detailed meaning of motif

It can be a repeated pattern or design element, a specific type of character or plot device, or a recurring image or metaphor. A motif is often used to convey a deeper meaning or message within a piece of art or literature, and its repetition can serve to emphasize its importance or significance. For example, in the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," the mockingbird is a recurring motif that symbolizes innocence and the importance of protecting the vulnerable. In visual art, a motif can be a repeated pattern or design element, such as the use of floral motifs in traditional textile design or the repeated use of a specific color palette in a series of paintings.

Example sentences containing motif

1. The dragon was a common motif in medieval tapestries.
2. The use of floral motifs in the wallpaper added a touch of elegance to the room.
3. The motif of a phoenix rising from the ashes represents rebirth and renewal.
4. The recurring motif of a watch ticking in the background added to the tension of the scene.
5. The use of geometric motifs in the tile design created a modern and minimalist look.
6. The motif of a compass is often used in adventure stories to symbolize a character's journey.

History and etymology of motif

The noun 'motif' has its etymological roots in the French language, where it originally referred to a recurring theme or idea in literature, music, or art. The word 'motif' is derived from the Old French term 'mot,' which means 'word' or 'theme,' and it can be traced back to the Latin word 'motus,' which means 'movement' or 'emotion.' In the context of art and literature, a 'motif' is like a repeated 'word' or 'theme' that brings coherence and meaning to a work. Over time, this term has been adopted into English and is widely used to describe a recurring element, symbol, or idea in a creative work, adding depth and symbolism to the overall composition. The etymology of 'motif' underscores its role in conveying emotions and themes across various forms of artistic expression.

Quiz: Find the meaning of motif

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Further usage examples of motif

1. The motif of a tree of life is a common symbol in many cultures and religions.
2. The repeated use of the color red served as a motif in the artist's series of paintings.
3. The motif of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon symbolizes transformation and growth.
4. The use of nautical motifs in the home decor gave the room a coastal feel.
5. The motif of a broken mirror is often used in literature to represent a shattered sense of self.
6. The motif of love's triumph over adversity shines in this story.
7. A haunting motif of darkness pervades the novel's pages.
8. The motif of nature's beauty runs through the entire painting.
9. The author cleverly weaves a motif of deceit into the plot.
10. In this film, the motif of redemption is central to the narrative.
11. The recurring motif of a phoenix symbolizes rebirth in the tale.
12. The motif of lost innocence resonates deeply with readers.
13. Throughout the poem, the motif of time's passage is evident.
14. The motif of isolation adds depth to the protagonist's journey.
15. An eerie motif of death and decay pervades the gothic tale.
16. The motif of struggle against tyranny fuels the plot's tension.
17. In the artwork, a celestial motif captures the viewer's attention.
18. The motif of ambition drives the protagonist to his downfall.
19. A musical motif of hope threads through the symphony's notes.
20. The motif of family bonds is a central theme in the novel.
21. The filmmaker masterfully employs the motif of duality.
22. A recurring motif of dreams shapes the protagonist's choices.
23. The motif of nostalgia tugs at the reader's heartstrings.
24. The artist's use of color creates a vibrant motif in the mural.
25. The motif of transformation mirrors the character's evolution.



theme, deviation, aberration, anomaly


GRE 15 (Graduate Record Examination), SAT 16 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Art and Creativity

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