MOTTO (an Italian word, from Late Lat. mutlum, a low sound, a mutter or murmur, cf. muter e, to mutter; the Latin word also gives Fr. mot, word), a " legend " consisting of a significant phrase or sentence, sometimes even of a single word attached to an emblem or device, and, in heraldry, placed on a scroll below the achievement or above the crest. Mottoes express sometimes a sentiment, a favourite principle, emphasize the meaning or symbolism of the emblem or device, and, in heraldry, often allude to one or more of the " charges " in the coat of arms, etc.
There are many publications which give lists of some of the bestknown mottoes, such as Fairbairn, Book of Family Crests, 1856; Wachbourne, Book of Family Crests (2 vols., 1882); Chassant and Tansin, Dictionnaire des devises historiques et heraldiques, etc. (1878) ; Dielitz, Die Watil- und Denkspruche, Feldgeschreie, Losungen, Schlachtund Volksrufe, besonders des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit (4 vols., 1888). Gatfield's Guide to Printed Books and MSS. relating to Heraldry (1892) contains a bibliography.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)