Definition of Motto

Motto is a word, phrase, or sentence that expresses beliefs. It comes from the Latin word “muttire,” meaning to murmur. In English, we’ve used “motto” since 1796, and it’s like a short, wise saying. It’s similar to the Italian word “motto,” which inspires and motivates people. It’s also a slogan. Motto can be in any language, but Latin is often used in the Western world for such phrases. So, a motto is like a little or a brief message that tells us what’s important to someone or a group. It’s a simple and powerful way to express thoughts and values.

Examples of Motto in Literature

Example #1

Motto by Langston Hughes

I play it cool
And dig all jive
That’s the reason
I stay alive.

My motto,
As I live and learn,
Dig And Be Dug
In Return.

 Although this short and pithy poem does not show the motto of the African Americans living in the United States, yet it gives clues to what a motto is and how it is adopted. It is possible that Langston Hughes’ goal was to urge his race to respond to racial discrimination in kind, as evidenced by the final two lines, thereby proposing it as a mantra.

Example #2

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Once again this argument was unanswerable. Certainly, the animals did not want Jones back; if the holding of debates on Sunday mornings was liable to bring him back, then the debates must stop. Boxer, who had now had time to think things over, voiced the general feeling by saying:”If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.” And from then on he adopted the maxim, “Napoleon is always right,” in addition to his private motto of “I will work harder.

This passage occurs in Animal Farm of George Orwell. As Boxer, the elderly horse, perceives the increased workload on the new farm, he takes the initiative to devise slogans such as “Napoleon is always right” and develops a personal motto of “I will work harder.”

Example #3

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Do it at once,’ said Bounderby, ‘has always been my motto from a child. When I thought I would run away from my egg-box and my grandmother, I did it at once. Do you the same. Do this at once!’ ‘Are you walking?’ asked his friend. ‘I have the father’s address. Perhaps you would not mind walking to town with me?’ ‘Not the least in the world,’ said Mr. Bounderby, ‘as long as you do it at once!’

This passage occurs in the novel of Charles Dickens, Hard Times. Bounderby, the owner of the factory, says “Do it at once” and this sentence becomes an identity for him. As a slogan and a reflection of his persona, this identity holds great importance. When a motto also becomes a reflection of a person, it depicts the personality of the person, as this shows that Bounderby wants work done immediately.

Example #4

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

“Like as not we got to be together a blamed long time on this hyer raft, Bilgewater, and so what’s the use o’ your bein’ sour? It ‘ll only make things on comfortable. It ain’t my fault I warn’t born a duke, it ain’t your fault you warn’t born a king—so what’s the use to worry? Make the best o’ things the way you find ‘em, says I—that’s my motto. This ain’t no bad thing that we’ve struck here—plenty gruband an easy life—come, give us your hand, duke, and le’s all be friends.”

In Huckleberry Finn, there is a particular scene where Huck encounters Bilgewater and shares his belief in the importance of utilizing available resources. As a result, he has adopted this as his personal motto and he confidently asserts, “that’s my motto.”

Example #5

brave new world by Aldous Huxley

Standard men and women; in uniform batches. The whole of a small factory staffed with the products of a single bokanovskified egg.” Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!” The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm.” You really know where you are. For the first time in history.” He quoted the planetary motto. “Community, Identity, Stability.” Grand words. “If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved.”

The motto comes in this passage from brave new world by Aldous Huxley that is “Community, Identity and Stability.” It takes the form of Grand words for Oceania where it is propagated as the motto of the state. This motto has become a well-known catchword among the citizens of Oceania. Similarly, mottos become catchwords in states and countries.

Example #6

The motto of the United States

This phrase is inscribed in Latin language on the coins of the United States. It actually means “out of many, one” which has been changed to ‘in God, we trust” that was also included in the Pledge. It seems that most of the US citizens consider it as a sign of pluralism of the United States. Hence, it has become almost a national motto and everybody in the United States knows it. Similar to that, several other nations have adopted their own mottos, such as the motto of England Dieu et mon Droit.” Similarly, an interesting motto whenever is mentioned gives an excellent picture of the French Revolution such as “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”

Functions of Motto

Motto’s functions are not confined to its brevity alone, but also include the ability to convey profound wisdom that goes beyond ordinary expressions. Found in literature, mottos frequently find their place in speeches and patriotic contexts.By serving as a unifying force for communities, countries, and states. These concise phrases can inspire individuals to strive for collective progress. In the world of literature, renowned works like “Animal Farm” and “1984” serve as illustrative examples of the vital role played by mottos. In these novels, mottos are employed to convey the ideals and propaganda of the ruling powers, reflecting how these succinct statements can manipulate, control, and shape the minds of the masses. Mottos, with their ability to encapsulate complex ideologies within a few simple words, serve as powerful instruments of influence, making them indispensable tools for shaping both societies and individuals.