What does motley mean?
Definitions for motley
This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word motley.
assortment, mixture, mixed bag, miscellany, miscellanea, variety, salmagundi, smorgasbord, potpourri, motleynoun
a collection containing a variety of sorts of things
"a great assortment of cars was on display"; "he had a variety of disorders"; "a veritable smorgasbord of religions"
a garment made of motley (especially a court jester's costume)
a multicolored woolen fabric woven of mixed threads in 14th to 17th century England
assorted, miscellaneous, mixed, motley, sundry(a)adjective
consisting of a haphazard assortment of different kinds
"an arrangement of assorted spring flowers"; "assorted sizes"; "miscellaneous accessories"; "a mixed program of baroque and contemporary music"; "a motley crew"; "sundry sciences commonly known as social"- I.A.Richards
motley, calico, multicolor, multi-color, multicolour, multi-colour, multicolored, multi-colored, multicoloured, multi-coloured, painted, particolored, particoloured, piebald, pied, varicolored, varicolouredverb
having sections or patches colored differently and usually brightly
"a jester dressed in motley"; "the painted desert"; "a particolored dress"; "a piebald horse"; "pied daisies"
vary, variegate, motleyverb
make something more diverse and varied
"Vary the menu"
make motley; color with different colors
A jester's multicoloured clothes
An incongruous mixture
Comprising greatly varied elements, to the point of incongruity; heterogeneous
Having many colours; variegated
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary
Mingled of various colours.
Etymology: supposed to be corrupted from medley, perhaps from mothlike coloured, spotted or variegated like a garden moth.
The motley fool thus moral’d on the time,
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer,
That fools should be so deep contemplative. William Shakespeare.
They that come to see a fellow
In a long motley coat, guarded with yellow,
Will be deceiv’d. William Shakespeare, Henry VIII.
Expence and after-thought, and idle care,
And doubts of motley hue, and dark despair. Dryden.
Enquire from whence this motley style
Did first our Roman purity defile. John Dryden, Persius.
Traulus, of amphibious breed,
Motley fruit of mungril seed;
By the dam from lordlings sprung,
By the fire exhal’d from dung. Jonathan Swift.
Motley is the traditional costume of the court jester, the motley fool, or the arlecchino character in commedia dell'arte. The harlequin wears a patchwork of red, green and blue diamonds that is still a fashion motif. The word motley is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as a cognate of medley, although the unrelated mottled has also contributed to the meaning. The word is most commonly used as an adjective or noun, but is also seen as a verb and adverb. When used as a noun, it can mean "a varied mixture". As an adjective, it is generally disparaging: a motley collection is an uninspiring pile of stuff, as in the cliché motley crew. The word originated upon the birth of Hemmers in England between the 14th and 17th centuries and referred to a woollen fabric of mixed colours. It was the characteristic dress of the professional fool. During the reign of Elizabeth I, motley served the important purpose of keeping the fool outside the social hierarchy and therefore not subject to class distinction. Since the fool was outside the dress laws, the fool was able to speak more freely. Likewise, motley did not have to be checkered and has been recently thought to be one pattern with different coloured threads running through it. Motley is the only wear.
variegated in color; consisting of different colors; dappled; party-colored; as, a motley coat
wearing motley or party-colored clothing. See Motley, n., 1
composed of different or various parts; heterogeneously made or mixed up; discordantly composite; as, motley style
a combination of distinct colors; esp., the party-colored cloth, or clothing, worn by the professional fool
hence, a jester, a fool
Etymology: [OE. mottelee, motle; cf. OF. mattel clotted, curdled, OF, ciel mattonn a mottled sky, mate, maton, curdled milk, Prov. G. matte curd. Cf. Mottle.]
Motley refers to the traditional costume of the court jester, or the harlequin character in commedia dell'arte. The latter wears a patchwork of red, green and blue diamonds that is still a fashion motif. The word motley is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as a cognate with medley, although the unrelated mottled has also contributed to the meaning. The word is most commonly used as an adjective or noun, but is also seen as a verb and adverb. When used as a noun, it can mean "a varied mixture." As an adjective, it is generally disparaging — a motley collection is an uninspiring pile of stuff, as in the cliche motley crew. The word originated in England between the 14th and 17th centuries and referred to a woolen fabric of mixed colors. It was the characteristic dress of the professional fool. During the reign of Elizabeth I, motley served the important purpose of keeping the fool outside the social hierarchy and therefore not subject to class distinction. Since the fool was outside the dress laws, the fool was able to speak more freely. Likewise, motley did not have to be checkered and has been recently thought to be one pattern with different colored threads running through it.
Chambers 20th Century Dictionary
mot′li, adj. covered with spots of different colours: consisting of different colours: composed of various parts, heterogeneous.—n. clothes made of pieces of different colours: the dress of a jester: any mixture, esp. of colours.—adj. Mot′ley-mind′ed (Shak.), having fickle and foolish thoughts and feelings.—Man of motley, a jester. [Skeat explains M. E. mottelee as through O. Fr. mattelé, clotted, curdled—Bavarian matte, curds.]
Surnames Frequency by Census Records
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Motley is ranked #3480 in terms of the most common surnames in America.
The Motley surname appeared 10,274 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 3 would have the surname Motley.
52.4% or 5,391 total occurrences were White.
41% or 4,219 total occurrences were Black.
2.8% or 296 total occurrences were of two or more races.
2.2% or 232 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
0.9% or 96 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
0.3% or 40 total occurrences were Asian.
The numerical value of motley in Chaldean Numerology is: 6
The numerical value of motley in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9
Examples of motley in a Sentence
And like Judge Motley, I have dedicated my career to ensuring that the words engraved on the front of the Supreme Court building --' Equal Justice Under Law' -- are a reality and not just an idea.
She's a shining light, hardworking and with an integrity that the rest of the motley crew in British politics just doesn't have.
I met a fool I' the forest, a motley fool.
Mötley Crüe always performs its songs live but during the last tour Mick struggled to remember chords, played the wrong songs and made constant mistakes which led to his departure from the band.
Popularity rank by frequency of use
Translations for motley
From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary
- bunt zusammengeworfen, bunt, vielfarbig, zusammengewürfeltGerman
- mezcolanza, batiburrillo, abigarradoSpanish
- ناهمگون, آمیخته, رنگارنگPersian
- kirjava, sekalainenFinnish
- variegato, eterogeneo, multicoloreItalian
- мешанина, разноцветный, пёстрый, пестрота, разношёрстныйRussian
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