1. The act or process of changing position or place.
2. A meaningful or expressive change in the position of the body or a part of the body; a gesture.
3. Active operation: set the plan in motion.
4. The ability or power to move: lost motion in his arm.
5. The manner in which the body moves, as in walking.
6. A prompting from within; an impulse or inclination: resigned of her own motion.
7. Music Melodic ascent and descent of pitch.
8. Law An application made to a court for an order or a ruling.
9. A formal proposal put to the vote under parliamentary procedures.
a. A mechanical device or piece of machinery that moves or causes motion; a mechanism.
b. The movement or action of such a device.
v. mo·tioned, mo·tion·ing, mo·tions
1. To direct by making a gesture: motioned us to our seats.
2. To indicate by making a gesture; signal: motioned that he was ready.
3. To make a motion (that something should happen).
To signal by making a gesture: motioned to her to enter.
go through the motions
To do something in a mechanical manner indicative of a lack of interest or involvement.
[Middle English mocioun, from Old French motion, from Latin mōtiō, mōtiōn-, from mōtus, past participle of movēre, to move; see meuə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.