"a brief and forcible or witty saying," 1813; earlier "a motto" (1580s, a sense now obsolete), from French mot (12c.) "remark, short speech," literally "word," cognate of Italian motto, from Medieval Latin muttum "a word," from Latin mutum "a grunt, a murmur" (see mutter). Also compare bon mot. Mot juste (1912) is French, literally "exact word," the precisely appropriate expression in some situation.
The mot juste is an expression which readers would like to buy of writers who use it, as one buys one's neighbour's bantam cock for the sake of hearing its voice no more. [Fowler]
"choral composition on a sacred text, intended to be sung in a Church service," late 14c., from Old French motet (13c.), diminutive of mot "word" (see mot), or from Medieval Latin motetum, diminutive of motto.
"small particle, as of dust visible in a ray of sunlight," Old English mot, of unknown origin; perhaps related to Dutch mot "dust from turf, sawdust, grit," Norwegian mutt "speck, mote, splinter, chip." Hence, anything very small. Many references are to Matthew vii.3.
"capacity of automatic or spontaneous movement," 1827, from French motilité (1827), from Latin mot-, stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").
late 14c., "parti-colored, variegated in color" (originally of fabric), from Anglo-French motteley, a word of unknown origin, perhaps [OED] based on Old English mot "speck" or a cognate Germanic word (see mote). But Klein's sources say probably from Gaulish. Century Dictionary rejects both. "Diversified in color," especially of a fool's dress. Hence, allusively, "a fool" (1600). As a noun meaning "cloth of contrasting mixed color" from late 14c.
"nocturnal lepidopterous insect," Middle English motthe, from Old English moððe (Northumbrian mohðe), a common Germanic word (compare Old Norse motti, Middle Dutch motte, Dutch mot, German Motte "moth"), perhaps related to Old English maða "maggot," or perhaps from the root of midge (q.v.). Until 16c. the word was used mostly of the larva and usually in reference to devouring woolen fabrics (see Matthew vi.20). Words for the adult moth in Middle English included flindre (mid-14c.), which is cognate with Dutch vlinder "butterfly." Moth-eaten is attested from late 14c.
"to debate, argue for and against" (mid-14c.), from Old English motian "to meet, talk, discuss, argue, plead," from mot "meeting" (see moot (n.)). Meaning "raise or bring forward for discussion" is from 1680s. Related: Mooted; mooting.