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motto

"Knowledge Is Good": the motto of Faber College (Animal House, 1978)

Definition:

(1) A word, phrase, or sentence that expresses an attitude, ideal, or guiding principle associated with the organization to which it belongs. Plural: mottoes or mottos.

(2) A brief saying or proverb.

See also:

Etymology:

From the Latin, "sound, utterance"

Examples and Observations:

  • "[M]ottos matter less for name-brand institutions. Yale University does have a motto--Lux et Veritas, or 'Light and Truth'--but its slogan might as well be 'Yale.' The brand needs no introduction.

    "But less-well-known colleges need to put more emphasis on their tag lines . . ..

    "Indeed, the slickest slogans often belong to for-profit colleges like the University of Phoenix ('Thinking Ahead') and DeVry University ('On Your Way. Today.') . . .

    "Plenty of colleges have unofficial mottos, which make their way onto T-shirts and coffee mugs. For instance, Reed College's underground slogan is 'Communism, Atheism, Free Love.' Students at Swarthmore College experience 'Guilt Without Sex.' And then there's 'Where the Hell Is Grinnell?' and 'The University of Chicago: Where Fun Goes to Die.'"
    (Thomas Bartlett, "Your (Lame) Slogan Here," Chronicle of Higher Education, November 23, 2007)


  • "Don't be evil."
    (informal corporate motto of Google, dropped in spring 2009)


  • "Learn today. Lead tomorrow."
    (motto of numerous organizations, including Careerstone Group, LLC; Office of Indian Education Programs; Community Leadership of Licking County, Ohio; Northwestern Oklahoma State University; Armstrong Atlantic State University in Georgia; Douglas County School District in Colorado; the Philippine National Police Academy; and the Shanghai campus of McDonald's Hamburger University)


  • "You can get anywhere from here."
    (motto of numerous organizations, including Montcalm Community College in Michigan, McCook Regional Airport in Nebraska, Savannah State University in Georgia, and Oakland Community College in Michigan)


  • "Running down the list of national mottos, spine-stiffening phrases about peace, unity, freedom, death, order, justice, homeland, God, honour, solidarity, progress, strength, loyalty, and, in the case of Lesotho, rain, all feature prominently. Then it is just a question of ordering the words. Malaysia has opted for 'unity is strength,' while Tanzania has chosen 'freedom and unity' and Haiti 'unity is our strength.' By contrast, the Bahamas is altogether more uplifting, with 'forward, upward, onward together.' Italy, meanwhile, has adopted the somberly bureaucratic 'Italy is a democratic republic, founded on labour.'"
    (Tristram Hunt, "A National Motto? That's the Last Thing Britain Needs." The Guardian, Oct. 18, 2007)
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