Say the word: mote. It's short and quick, isn't it? The word corresponds to its meaning, which is something tiny: a speck of dust, a bit of fluff, a speckle of gold in the prospector's pan.

  • Pronunciation: /məʊt/
  • English description: (nontechnical usage) a tiny piece of anything
  • Synonyms: particle
  • Chinese Translation:  微粒(wei1 li4)
  • Spanish Translation: la mota
  • ORIGIN: We're not sure of the origin of the word mote, except that it is related to Germanic words meaning "sawdust or grit, tiny dust particles." We think of a mote as the tiniest of objects, but astronomer Carl Sagan demonstrates a different perspective when he looked at a photograph of Earth taken from a great distance by Voyager I and said, "We live on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."


  • The smoky, carbon-smelling clouds rained down motes over the grass, the driveway, on my shoulders and in my hair.
  • It was the spotlight of his eyes, those radiant beams, that gently drewmotes from the past out of me—and I loved this.

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