See also: Motley



From Middle English motle, from Anglo-Norman motteley (parti-colored), late 14th c., from Old English mot (speck), cognate with mote.



motley (comparative more motley or motlier, superlative most motley or motliest)

  1. Comprising greatly varied elements, to the point of incongruity.
    Synonyms: heterogeneous, diverse, manifold; see also Thesaurus:heterogeneous
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter II, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314, page 0147:
      Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, []. Even such a boat as the Mount Vernon offered a total deck space so cramped as to leave secrecy or privacy well out of the question, even had the motley and democratic assemblage of passengers been disposed to accord either.
  2. Having many colours; variegated.
    Synonyms: colorful, prismatic, variegated; see also Thesaurus:multicolored

Derived termsEdit



motley (plural motleys)

  1. An incongruous mixture.
  2. A jester's multicoloured clothes.
  3. (by extension) A jester; a fool.