Motto: A brief statement that expresses a goal, ideal, or principle. From the Italian motto, “a saying or legend attached to a heraldic design,” and ultimately from Latin muttum (“grunt” or “word”). Related to French mot (“word”) and English mutter (“to mumble”).
I’ve written so much and for so long about slogans and taglines that I was surprised to find that I’d never written about the meaning and uses of motto. I’ll get to the distinctions between those words – motto, slogan, and tagline – in a bit. First, though, the reason to talk about motto this week.