Find the word definition

Crossword clues for motley

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ The party is not a motley collection of ageing hippies, but an arm of a wealthy and complex organisation.
▪ If so, is what you have put together really just a motley collection with a messy clash of styles and materials?
▪ These confiscated nets were a very motley collection.
▪ All had several days' growth of beard and were dressed in a motley collection of civilian clothing.
▪ A motley collection of tawdry items was scattered over an area at least four feet square.
▪ A middle-aged couple got out and began to unload a motley collection of boxes and bags.
▪ A group appear from the house, a motley collection like a troupe of clowns.
▪ Photographs of the period show groups of men in a motley collection of semi-uniform.
▪ A motley crew for the most part, with the reputation of being beer-swilling, womanising chauvinists.
▪ When he stalked out he left her with a motley crew mostly of accountants and lawyers.
▪ A motley bunch of students, ex-convicts and unemployed artists worked together to repair the building.
▪ a motley fleet of aircraft
▪ The people who travelled with us to Mexico were a motley crew.
▪ Gaz slowly gathers a motley group of losers.
▪ If so, is what you have put together really just a motley collection with a messy clash of styles and materials?
▪ One seemed to be humans dressed in black, the other was a motley group of exters.
▪ The party is not a motley collection of ageing hippies, but an arm of a wealthy and complex organisation.
▪ These confiscated nets were a very motley collection.
▪ They were an entertaining and very motley gang.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Motley \Mot"ley\, a. [OE. mottelee, motle; cf. OF. mattel['e] clotted, curdled, OF, ciel mattonn['e] a mottled sky, mate, maton, curdled milk, Prov. G. matte curd. Cf. Mottle.]

  1. Variegated in color; consisting of different colors; dappled; party-colored; as, a motley coat.

  2. Wearing motley or party-colored clothing. See Motley, n., 1. ``A motley fool.''

  3. Composed of different or various parts; heterogeneously made or mixed up; discordantly composite; as, motley style.


Motley \Mot"ley\, n.

  1. A combination of distinct colors; esp., the party-colored cloth, or clothing, worn by the professional fool.
    --Chaucer. ``Motley 's the only wear.''

  2. Hence, a jester, a fool. [Obs.]

    Man of motley, a fool. [Obs.]
    --Beau. & Fl.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c., "parti-colored" (originally of fabric), from Anglo-French motteley, probably from Old English mot "speck" (see mote). But Klein's sources say probably from Gaulish. "Diversified in color," especially of a fool's dress. Hence, allusively, "a fool" (1600). As a noun meaning "cloth of mixed color" from late 14c.


a. 1 Comprising greatly varied elements, to the point of incongruity; heterogeneous. 2 Having many colours; variegated. n. 1 An incongruous mixture. 2 A jester's multicoloured clothes. 3 (context by extension English) A jester; a fool.

  1. n. a collection containing a variety of sorts of things; "a great assortment of cars was on display"; "he had a variety of disorders"; "a veritable smorgasbord of religions" [syn: assortment, mixture, mixed bag, miscellany, miscellanea, variety, salmagundi, smorgasbord, potpourri]

  2. a garment made of motley (especially a court jester's costume)

  3. a multicolored woolen fabric woven of mixed threads in 14th to 17th century England

  4. v. make something more diverse and varied; "Vary the menu" [syn: vary, variegate]

  5. make motley; color with different colors [syn: parti-color]

  1. adj. consisting of a haphazard assortment of different kinds (even to the point of incongruity); "an arrangement of assorted spring flowers"; "assorted sizes"; "miscellaneous accessories"; "a mixed program of baroque and contemporary music"; "a motley crew"; "sundry sciences commonly known as social"- I.A.Richards [syn: assorted, miscellaneous, mixed, sundry(a)]

  2. having sections or patches colored differently and usually brightly; "a jester dressed in motley"; "the painted desert"; "a particolored dress"; "a piebald horse"; "pied daisies" [syn: calico, multicolor, multicolour, multicolored, multicoloured, painted, particolored, particoloured, piebald, pied, varicolored, varicoloured]

Motley, MN -- U.S. city in Minnesota
Population (2000): 585
Housing Units (2000): 270
Land area (2000): 1.321566 sq. miles (3.422839 sq. km)
Water area (2000): 0.067839 sq. miles (0.175703 sq. km)
Total area (2000): 1.389405 sq. miles (3.598542 sq. km)
FIPS code: 44422
Located within: Minnesota (MN), FIPS 27
Location: 46.335089 N, 94.645866 W
ZIP Codes (1990):
Note: some ZIP codes may be omitted esp. for suburbs.
Motley, MN
Motley -- U.S. County in Texas
Population (2000): 1426
Housing Units (2000): 839
Land area (2000): 989.377882 sq. miles (2562.476841 sq. km)
Water area (2000): 0.430342 sq. miles (1.114580 sq. km)
Total area (2000): 989.808224 sq. miles (2563.591421 sq. km)
Located within: Texas (TX), FIPS 48
Location: 34.084808 N, 100.789688 W
Motley, TX
Motley County
Motley County, TX
Motley (disambiguation)

Motley is the traditional costume of the court jester. The word can also refer to the following:


Motley is the traditional costume of the court jester, fool, or the harlequin character in commedia dell'arte. The harlequin wears a patchwork of red, green and blue diamonds that is still a fashion motif.

The word motley is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as a cognate with medley, although the unrelated mottled has also contributed to the meaning. The word is most commonly used as an adjective or noun, but is also seen as a verb and adverb. When used as a noun, it can mean "a varied mixture". As an adjective, it is generally disparaging — a motley collection is an uninspiring pile of stuff, as in the cliche motley crew.

The word originated upon the birth of Hemmers in England between the 14th and 17th centuries and referred to a woolen fabric of mixed colors. It was the characteristic dress of the professional fool. During the reign of Elizabeth I, motley served the important purpose of keeping the fool outside the social hierarchy and therefore not subject to class distinction. Since the fool was outside the dress laws ( sumptuary law), the fool was able to speak more freely.

Likewise, motley did not have to be checkered and has been recently thought to be one pattern with different colored threads running through it.

Motley (surname)

Motley is a surname which may refer to:

  • Archibald Motley (1891-1981), African-American painter
  • Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005), African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator and Manhattan Borough President
  • Darryl Motley (born 1960), American Major League Baseball player
  • Eric Motley (born 1972), African-American bureaucrat
  • Fannie E. Motley (born c. 1938), first African-American to graduate from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama
  • Geof Motley, former Australian rules football player and coach
  • James Motley (1822-1859), English engineer and naturalist
  • John Lothrop Motley (1814-1877), American historian
  • Marion Motley (1920-1999), American National Football League player
  • Peter Motley (born 1964), former Australian rules football player
  • Ronald Motley (1944-2013), American trial attorney

Usage examples of "motley".

Remade glands and astream with a rainbow mess, and this aggregate of criminals, this motley comes closer in freedom.

Seated with his back to the wall of the low-ceilinged, crowded tavern, Gruntle looked out with narrowed eyes on a motley collection of murderers, extortionists and thugs whose claim to power was measured in fear.

It was a dressing room, with a row of monkish robes in motley hanging upon pegs, and at the end of it there seemed to be a ledge looking down over the area where the light came from.

I do know thee for that same gentle Motley did save me from Black Lewin--a murrain seize him!

A motley troop of creatures-variously taloned and beaked, chitinous and scutellate, some with claws, others with pinchers-began charging up the hill.

So a shambolic group, of all heights and body weights, were shifting about in their motley homespun tunics, while Fusculus gave benign instructions when he felt like it.

The police band under the spathodea trees at the end of the lawn played light Italian operetta with an exuberant African beat, and only the motley selection of guests distinguished the gathering from a Rhodesian governor, general garden party that Craig had attended six years previously.

Quinn corrected before Somerton Taite followed his sister and he could close the door on the whole motley crew.

From other directions a large, motley force of Entropium warships helped the Migaan craft dispose of the outnumbered Thron vessels.

Four men in motley armor were hacking and thrusting like men possessed, up at a half-naked giant of a man, all rippling muscles and hair, who was fending them off with a huge cleaver of a sword.

Chivas Regal, Robert considered the motley collection of individuals who, for reasons of their own, remained like him, unattached and available, and decided he would be better off going home--alone.

It was a noble illusion, doomed to failure, the versatile genius of language cried out against the monotony of their Utopia, and the crowds who were to people the unbuilded city of their dreams went straying after the feathered chiefs of the rebels, who, when the fulness of time was come, themselves received apotheosis and the honours of a new motley pantheon.

Certainly the buildings were unusual: a motley arrangement of unsymmetrical roofs covered them while inside was to be found a seemingly incoherent mixture of large and small rooms, set at many levels and joined by twisting stairways and winding corridors.

But one thing I am sure of -- that the innocent delight of the poor Indian Alferez Real, mounted upon his horse, dressed in his motley, barefooted, and overshadowed by his gold-laced hat, was as entire as if he had eaten of all the fruits of all the trees of knowledge of his time, and so perhaps the Jesuits were wise.

But it was the motley band who brought up the procession that made the women cross themselves, for these were men of all shapes and sizes, some small as dwarves, some long and lanky as clothespoles, less than a dozen of them, in the ragged remains of what had once been bright clothing in the strangest styles.