1 : a usually recurring salient thematic element (as in the arts) especially : a dominant idea or central theme Ms. Cisneros doesn"t present too many nice guys here, and the perfidy of men is a motif in several of the stories. — Bebe Moore Campbell

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2 : a single or repeated design or color a decorative motif Animals & flowers as well as trees decorate sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Chinese panels, and each motif had its own meaning.— Nancy Berliner
3 biochemistry : a distinctive sầu, usually recurrent, molecular sequence (as of amino acids or base pairs) or structural element (as of secondary protein structures) These RNA molecules have an intriguing structural motif, absent in normal RNA, that recognizes an amino acid and chemically binds lớn it, forming a novel type of RNA enzyme, or ribozyme.— Jessa Netting Only about half these genes have sầu recognizable motifs, or DNA-sequence patterns, that suggest possible functions.— Alan E. Guttmacher and Francis S. Collins

Other Words from motif Synonyms What exactly is a motif? And how is it different from a leitmotif? More Example Sentences Learn More About motif
motific mō-​ˈtē-​fik

, -​ˈti-​ adjective

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Synonyms for motif


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What exactly is a motif? And how is it different from a leitmotif?

In works of art, a motif is an important and noticeable element or feature that typically appears throughout the work. It can relate to lớn the theme, or it can be the dominant or central idea itself. Concepts lượt thích betrayal & forgiveness can be motifs, for example, but so can particular images và sounds, such as trees or bells. Motif is also commonly applied in kiến thiết, where it typically refers khổng lồ a single or repeated pattern or color. A piece of fabric might have a floral motif; a room may have sầu a blaông xã and trắng motif.

Motif can also appear in scientific contexts, especially in biochemistry, where it refers to a distinctive sầu molecular sequence or structural element that is usually recurrent.

Leitmotif (also & formerly more commonly spelled leitmotiv) has its origins in opera, & is especially associated with Wagnerian opera. The word is from the German words leitMotif, which translate respectively as "leading" & "motive sầu." In opera, a leitmotif is a recurring melody that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation. The term is now applied in other kinds of music, sometimes with a meaning very close khổng lồ the original: "The Imperial March" that is heard in the Star Wars film franchise whenever Darth Vader appears on screen, for example, is a modern example of leitmotif.

Leitmotif also has extended use that treads the same territory as motif. It"s not a common word, but when it is applied it often refers to lớn a dominant recurring theme, as when an image consistently used in an artist"s works is described as a leitmotif. lưu ý that some people object when leitmotif is modified by a word like main or dominant, on the grounds that since German leit means "leading" the phrase is redundant. English speakers using leitmotif in English, however, may choose to lớn ignore the objection since leit does not mean "leading" in English.

… a hip awareness of its own cheesy implausibility, right down to lớn the music: The thunderously orchestrated score uses "Itsy Bitsy Spider" as a motif. — People, 29 July 2002 In retrospect, it is now clear that the alien invasion motif in 1950s science fiction movies reflected the Cold War atmosphere of the period. — Paul A. Cantor, Gilligan Unbound, 2001 The first-class scowl, shaved head and scars on his right shoulder and biceps fit the tough-guy motif, but it"s a facade. — Ric Bucher, ESPN, 28 May 2001 The branding is done by combining a commercial trademark with one or another subcultural motif, a subculture the buyer belongs lớn or wants khổng lồ join: surfing, skateboarding, … — John Seabrook, New Yorker, đôi mươi Sept. 1999 The wallpaper has a flower motif. the motif of mute figures standing in lonely isolation is a recurrent one in the artist"s works
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Recent Examples on the Web One popular motif was a picture of an empty chair, echoing the way the Nobel Prize committee honored Mr. Liu at the 2010 ceremony. — Javier C. HernÁndez, Thành Phố New York Times, 14 July 2017 There are so many opportunities for midnight movie audience interaction too — bizarre and strange little motifs practically screaming out for a handful of popcorn khổng lồ be thrown at the screen. — Katie Walsh,, 13 July 2017 If florals are the must-have print of spring, then gingham is the go-to motif come summer. — Maria Ward, Vogue, 13 July 2017 Brees, who customarily leads a ceremonial procession around the edge of Bayou St. John wearing an American-flag motif dress and carrying a triumphant sword, said that the symbolism seems off-base since the election of President Donald Trump. — Doug Maccash,, 13 June 2017 There were no familiar motifs & few conventional turns of phrase, Potter blurring lines that separate mainstream and avant-garde improvisation. — Howard Reich,, 2 June 2017 Many of them feature elaborate flora, fauna và landscapes, her signature motif. — Ming Liu, CNN, 28 May 2017 The overture communicates the drama of negotiations through the counterpoint of the clarinet with the other instruments, striking a klezmer motif that exits quickly when met with the aggressive sầu staccato lớn passages of the strings & piano. — Sean Erwin, miamiherald, 21 June 2017 A motif of human-lượt thích figures encased in milky-white liquid pops up repeatedly until a dead-eyed child gets lit on fire amid a horde of zombie-like antagonists. — Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 12 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources lớn reflect current usage of the word "motif." Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Sover us feedback.