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Definition of "motley" []

  • Having elements of great variety or incongruity; heterogeneous: "Most Ivy League freshman classes are chosen from a motley collection of constituencies . . . and a bare majority of entering students can honestly be called scholars” ( New York Times). (adjective)
  • Having many colors; variegated; parti-colored: a motley tunic. (adjective)
  • The parti-colored attire of a court jester. (noun)
  • A heterogeneous, often incongruous mixture of elements. (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "motley" in a sentence
  • "That Hazlitt learned to express his thoughts “in motley imagery or quaint allusion”, that his understanding “ever found a language to express itself, I owe to Coleridge”, he later wrote."
  • "First, Chinese males became effeminate fops, who dressed in motley silk costumes and sported ridiculously long fingernails."
  • "International motley is not limited to any continent, nor did it originate in any theory or concept of dress."