- The definition of motley is an assorted or mixed group or collection.
A mix of people of different ages, races, genders and ideologies is an example of a motley mix.
- of many colors or patches of color
- Rare wearing many-colored garments: a motley fool
- having or composed of many different or clashing elements; heterogeneous: a motley group
Origin: Middle English mottley from uncertain or unknown; perhaps
- cloth of mixed colors
- Rare a garment of various colors, worn by a clown or jester
- Rare a fool or jester
- a combination of diverse or clashing elements
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Having elements of great variety or incongruity; heterogeneous: “Most Ivy League freshman classes are chosen from a motley collection of constituencies . . . and a bare majority of entering students can honestly be called scholars” (New York Times).
- Having many colors; variegated; parti-colored: a motley tunic.
- The parti-colored attire of a court jester.
- A heterogeneous, often incongruous mixture of elements.
Origin: Middle English motlei, variegated cloth, variegated, probably from Anglo-Norman, probably from Middle English mot, speck; see mote1.