• IPA: /moʊˈtiːf/

motif (plural motifs)

  1. A recurring or dominant element; a theme.
    See how the artist repeats the scroll motif throughout the work?
  2. (music) A short melodic passage that is repeated in several parts of a work.
  3. A decorative figure that is repeated in a design or pattern.
  4. (dressmaking) A decorative appliqué design or figure, as of lace or velvet, used in trimming.
  5. (crystallography) The physical object or objects repeated at each point of a lattice. Usually atoms or molecules.
  6. (chess) A basic element of a move in terms of why the piece moves and how it supports the fulfilment of a stipulation.
  7. (biochemistry) In a nucleotide or amino-acid sequence, pattern that is widespread and has, or is conjectured to have, a biological significance.
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