late 14c., mocioun, "process of moving; change of place, continuous variation of position;" also "suggestion, proposal or proposition formally made," from Old French mocion "movement, motion; change, alteration" (13c., Modern French motion) and directly from Latin motionem (nominative motio) "a moving, a motion; an emotion," from past-participle stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").
From c. 1400 in legal sense of "application to a court or judge." To be in motion "in a state of motion" is from c. 1600; to set in motion "set working" is from 1590s. To go through the motions in the figurative sense of "pretend, do in a perfunctory manner" is by 1816 from the notion of "simulate the motions of." Motion picture is attested from 1896; motion sickness by 1942.
Rev. G.S. White said : The Presbytery does not favour the proposition of the Richmond Convention, and thinks the appointment of the Committee unnecessary; yet I suppose, that like the man who had nothing to eat, yet always spread the table, and sat down, and went through the motions--so we, according to our brother, are in honour bound, to appoint the Committee and go through the motions!--[Laughter] [The Presbyterian Magazine, May, 1858]