adjective1 : variegated in color 2 : composed of diverse often incongruous elements
Lenny went to the medieval festival dressed in the bright motley garb of a court jester.
“The detention of the monitors instantly raised the stakes in an already fraught drama pitting the Ukrainian government against motley bands of separatists who have overtaken city halls across the country’s eastern half.” — Griff Witte, The Washington Post, April 27, 2014
Did you know?
“Motley” made its debut as an English adjective in the 14th century, but etymologists aren’t completely sure where it came from. Many think it probably derived from the Middle English “mot,” meaning “mote” or “speck.” The word is also used as a noun identifying a multicolored fabric, a garment made from such a fabric, or—perhaps the best known sense of all—the fool who often wore such outfits in the European courts of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.