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A motto (derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...
''muttum'', 'mutter', by way of
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
''motto'', 'word', 'sentence') is the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. Mottos are usually found predominantly in written form (unlike
slogan A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a clan, political slogan, political, Advertising slogan, commercial, religious, and other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose, with the goal of persuading members of the publi ...

slogan
s, which may also be expressed orally), and may stem from long traditions of social foundations, or from significant events, such as a civil war or a revolution. A motto may be in any language, but
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
has been widely used, especially in the Western world.


Heraldry

In
heraldry Heraldry () is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, Imperial, royal and noble ranks, rank and geneal ...
, a motto is often found below the shield in a
banderole A banderole (, "little banner") is a comparatively small but long flag, historically used by knights and on ships, and as a heraldic device for representing bishops. Bannerol, in its main uses is the same as banderole, and is the term especially ...
; this placement stems from the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of w ...
, in which the vast majority of
nobles Nobility is a normally ranked immediately below and found in some societies that have a formal . Nobility has often been an that possessed more acknowledged and higher than most other classes in society. The privileges associated wi ...
possessed a
coat of arms#REDIRECT coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldry, heraldic communication design, visual design on an escutcheon (heraldry), escutcheon (i.e., shield), surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the fu ...

coat of arms
and a motto. In the case of
Scottish heraldry Heraldry Heraldry () is a broad term, encompassing the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank and genealogy, pedigree. Armory, ...
it is mandated to appear above the crest. Spanish coats of arms may display a motto in the
bordure 150px, The arms of León_in_the_arms_of_Infanta_Isabella_of_Castile.html" ;"title="Kingdom_of_León.html" ;"title="purpure.html" ;"title="Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, with a ''bordure argent semy of lions purpure">Richard of Con ...

bordure
of the shield. In heraldic literature, the terms "rallying cry" respectively "battle banner" are also common, which date back to the
battle cry A battle cry is a yell or chant taken up in battle, usually by members of the same combatant group. Battle cries are not necessarily articulate (e.g. "Eulaliaaaa!", "Alala"..), although they often aim to invoke patriotic or religious sentiment. ...
, and is usually located above the coat of arms. In
English heraldry English heraldry is the form of coats of arms A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon (i.e., shield A shield is a piece of personal armour held in the hand, which may or may not be strapped to the wrist or forearm. S ...
mottos are not granted with armorial bearings, and may be adopted and changed at will. In Scottish heraldry, mottos can only be changed by re-matriculation, with the
Lord Lyon King of Arms The Right Honourable the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of , is the most junior of the in Scotland and is the official with responsibility for regulating in that country, issuing new grants of arms, and serving as the judge of the , the ol ...
. Although unusual in England and perhaps outside English heraldic practice, there are some examples, such as in
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the ...
, of the particular appearance of the motto scroll and letters thereon being blazoned; a prominent example is the obverse of the
Great Seal of the United States The Great Seal is a principal National symbols of the United States, national symbol of the United States. The phrase is used both for the physical seal (device), seal itself, which is kept by the United States Secretary of State, and more general ...

Great Seal of the United States
(which is a coat of arms and follows heraldic conventions), the blazon for which specifies that the motto scroll is held in the beak of the bald eagle serving as the escutcheon's supporter. Ships and submarines in the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by Kingdom of England, English and Kingdom of Scotland, Scottish kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were foug ...
each have a
badge A badge is a device or accessory, often containing the of an , which is presented or displayed to indicate some feat of service, a special accomplishment, a symbol of authority granted by taking an oath (e.g., police and fire), a sign of legit ...
and motto, as do units of the
Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's Air force, air and space force. It was formed towards the end of the World War I, First World War on 1 April 1918, becoming the first independent air force in the world, by regrouping the Royal ...
.


Language

Latin has been very common for mottos, but for nation states their official language is generally chosen. Examples of unusual choices in motto language include: *
County A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert Chambers (publisher bo ...
of
Somerset ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England South West England is one of nine official regions of England. It consists of the counties of Bristol Bristol () is a City status ...

Somerset
, (All men of Somerset),
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a who inhabited . They traced their origins to the 5th century settlement of incomers to Britain, who migrated to the island from the coastlands of . However, the of the Anglo-Saxons occurred within Britain, and the ide ...
; *
South Cambridgeshire South Cambridgeshire is a mostly rural Non-metropolitan district, local government district of Cambridgeshire, England, with a population of 148,755 at the 2011 census. It was formed on 1 April 1974 by the merger of Chesterton Rural District and ...
in the English
Fens The Fens, also known as the , is a coastal plain in eastern England and the East Midlands. This naturally marsh A marsh is a wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently (for years or deca ...

Fens
, ''Niet Zonder Arbyt'' (Not Without Labour),
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
; *
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital cities ...

South Africa
, ''ǃke e: ǀxarra ǁke'' (Unity in diversity), ǀXam. *
Shire Shire is a traditional term for an administrative division of land in Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the Britis ...
of
Shetland Shetland ( on, Hjaltland; sco, Shetland; nrn, Hjetland), also called the Shetland Islands and formerly Zetland, is a subarctic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or co ...

Shetland
, ''Með lögum skal land byggja'' (By law shall the land be built up),
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and t ...
; A canting motto is one that contains
word play Word play or wordplay (also: play-on-words) is a literary technique A narrative technique (known for literary fictional narratives as a literary technique, literary device, or fictional device) is any of several specific methods the creator of a ...
. For example, the motto of the
Earl of Onslow Earl of Onslow, of Onslow in the County of Shropshire and of Clandon Park in the County of Surrey is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1801 for George Onslow, 1st Earl of Onslow, George Onslow, 4th Baron Onslow. The O ...
is ''Festina lente'' (literally "make haste slowly"), punningly interpreting ''on-slow''. Similarly, the motto of the Burgh of Tayport, ''Te oportet alte ferri'' ("It is incumbent on you to carry yourself high"), is a cant on "Tayport at auld Tay Ferry", also alluding to the local lighthouse. The motto of the U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process where general rules and concept Conce ...

Federal Bureau of Investigation
, ''Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity'', is a
backronym A backronym, or bacronym, is an acronym formed from a word that existed prior to the invention of the backronym. Unlike a typical acronym, in which a new word is constructed from a phrase, the phrase corresponding to the backronym is selected to fi ...
of the letters F.B.I.


Examples

* United in diversity, the motto of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
* , the motto of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
*
United we stand, divided we fall "United we stand, divided we fall" is a phrase used in many different kinds of motto A motto (derived from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin ...


Literature

In literature, a motto is a sentence, phrase, poem, or word prefixed to an essay, chapter, novel, or the like suggestive of its subject matter. It is a short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle for the written material that follows. For example,
Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson (born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson; 13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer. He is best known for works such as ''Treasure Island ''Treasure Island'' (origi ...

Robert Louis Stevenson
's '''' uses mottos at the start of each section.


See also

*
Epigram An epigram is a brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement. The word is derived from the Ancient Greek, Greek "inscription" from "to write on, to inscribe", and the literary device has been employed for o ...
*
Epitaph An epitaph (; ) is a short text honoring a deceased person. Strictly speaking, it refers to text that is inscribed on a tombstone or plaque, but it may also be used in a figurative sense. Some epitaphs are specified by the person themselves be ...

Epitaph
* ''
Hendiatris Hendiatris (from the el, ἓν διὰ τρεῖς, ''hen dia treis'', "one through three") (pronounced ) is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary lang ...
'' *
List of Latin phrases __NOTOC__ This is a list of Wikipedia articles of Latin phrases and their translation into English. To view all phrases on a single, lengthy document, see: * List of Latin phrases (full) The list also is divided alphabetically into twenty pages: ...
*
List of mottos This list contains the mottos of organizations, institutions, municipalities and authorities. Organizations National mottos * List of national mottos Cultural, philanthropic and scientific * Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam Zoo: la, Natura Art ...
*
List of national mottos This page lists state and national motto A motto (derived from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome ...
*
Mission statement A mission statement is a short statement of why an organization exists, what its overall goal is, identifying the goal of its operations: what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or market Market may refer to: *Market ...

Mission statement
*
Slogan A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a clan, political slogan, political, Advertising slogan, commercial, religious, and other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose, with the goal of persuading members of the publi ...

Slogan
*
Tagline In entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and Interest (emotion), interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or even ...

Tagline


References

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