Etymology
Advertisement
motif (n.)

"theme, predominant feature that recurs often in an artistic or dramatic work," 1848, from French motif "dominant idea, theme," from Medieval Latin motivus "moving, impelling," from past participle stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away"). Also a Middle English form of motive (late 14c.).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
*meue- 
*meuə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to push away."

It forms all or part of: commotion; emotion; mob; mobile; moment; momentary; momentous; momentum; motif; motility; motion; motive; moto-; motor; move; movement; mutiny; premotion; promote; remote; remove.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit kama-muta "moved by love" and probably mivati "pushes, moves;" Greek ameusasthai "to surpass," amyno "push away;" Latin movere "move, set in motion;" Lithuanian mauti "push on."
Related entries & more 
motive (adj.)

late 14c., "having control of motion, causing motion, having power to move someone or something," from Old French motif "moving" or directly from Medieval Latin motivus "moving, impelling," from past-participle stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").

Related entries & more 
Grateful Dead 
San Francisco rock band, 1965, the name taken, according to founder Jerry Garcia, from a dictionary entry he saw about the folk tale motif of a wanderer who gives his last penny to pay for a corpse's burial, then is magically aided by the spirit of the dead person. A different version of the concept is found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Related entries & more 
motive (n.)

late 14c., "something brought forward, a proposition, assertion, or argument" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French motif "will, drive, motivation," noun use of adjective, literally "moving," from Medieval Latin motivus "moving, impelling," from Latin motus "a moving, motion," past participle of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").

Meaning "that which inwardly moves a person to behave a certain way, mental state or force which induces an action of volition" is from early 15c. Hence "design or object one has in any action."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
lozenge (n.)

early 14c., "plane figure having four equal sides and two acute and two obtuse angles," from Old French losenge "rhombus shape, diamond-shape" (as an ornamental motif in heraldry, etc.); "small square cake; windowpane," etc., a word used for many flat quadrilateral things (Modern French losange). It has cognates in Spanish losange, Catalan llosange, Italian lozanga, but the origin is disputed.

Probably from a pre-Roman Celtic language, perhaps Iberian *lausa or Gaulish *lausa "flat stone" (compare Provençal lausa, Spanish losa, Catalan llosa, Portuguese lousa "slab, tombstone"). From late 14c. as "diamond-shaped cake or wafer;" specific sense "small cake or tablet (originally diamond-shaped) of medicine and sugar, etc., meant to be held in the mouth and dissolved" is from 1520s.

The related words in Continental languages often have a sense "flattery, deceit" (compare Old French losengier "to praise unduly," losenge "flattery, false praise; deceitful friendliness"), which comes probably via the notion of square flat slabs of tombstones and their fulsome epithets. Some of this made its way into Middle English via French. Chaucer uses losenger "flatterer, deceiver;" losengerye "flattery."

Related entries & more 
evil (adj.)

Old English yfel (Kentish evel) "bad, vicious, ill, wicked," from Proto-Germanic *ubilaz (source also of Old Saxon ubil, Old Frisian and Middle Dutch evel, Dutch euvel, Old High German ubil, German übel, Gothic ubils), from PIE *upelo-, from root *wap- "bad, evil" (source also of Hittite huwapp- "evil").

In Old English and other older Germanic languages other than Scandinavian, "this word is the most comprehensive adjectival expression of disapproval, dislike or disparagement" [OED]. Evil was the word the Anglo-Saxons used where we would use bad, cruel, unskillful, defective (adj.), or harm (n.), crime, misfortune, disease (n.). In Middle English, bad took the wider range of senses and evil began to focus on moral badness. Both words have good as their opposite. Evil-favored (1520s) meant "ugly." Evilchild is attested as an English surname from 13c.

The adverb is Old English yfele, originally of words or speech. Also as a noun in Old English, "what is bad; sin, wickedness; anything that causes injury, morally or physically." Especially of a malady or disease from c. 1200. The meaning "extreme moral wickedness" was one of the senses of the Old English noun, but it did not become established as the main sense of the modern word until 18c.

As a noun, Middle English also had evilty. Related: Evilly. Evil eye (Latin oculus malus) was Old English eage yfel. The jocular notion of an evil twin as an excuse for regrettable deeds is by 1986, American English, from an old motif in mythology.

Related entries & more