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Motto of Franz Joseph I.

A motto (also a motto ) is a maxim or motto given by a group of like-minded people, a person, a family or organization that should make their goal and claim clear. These are usually not uttered orally , like slogans , but in writing and come either from long traditions, communal determinations or decisive events such as a civil war or a revolution. The term motto was Germanized by Philipp von Zesen through the expression motto .

Slogans are often part of coats of arms. In the coat of arms they are usually in a banner under the coat of arms shield. This placement dates back to the Middle Ages , when the vast majority of all nobles had a coat of arms and a motto. In heraldic literature, the terms Feldgeschrei or Panier are common, which go back to a battle cry and are usually located above the coat of arms.

Today, many states have a motto, and other institutions also manage foreign exchange.

Motto of people

Jauch's coat of arms (1749), which depicts the motto (1683)

Motto of modern nation states

Map of modern states with motto

Mottos of cities and countries

Geneva coat of arms with motto

Many Swiss cantons have or had a motto. This can be found on canton coins (before 1850).

  • Liberté et patrie (French): Freedom and Fatherland - Vaud
  • Post tenebras lux (lat.): After dark, light - Geneva
  • Dominus providebit (lat.): The Lord will take care of things - Bern / edge of today's five-franc coin
  • Domine conserva nos in pace (lat.): Lord protect us in peace - Zurich , on the Wasertaler , Basel , Lucerne
  • Iustitia et Concordia (lat.): Justice and unity - Zurich
  • Pro Deo et Patria (lat.): For God and Fatherland - Zurich

Motto of orders (order motto)

Slogans from student associations

Coming from the time of the student orders, almost all student associations have a motto in their coat of arms. Examples for this are:

Motto of church dignitaries

Traditionally, bishops and abbots of the Catholic Church choose a motto that can clarify the program of their pontificate . But priests and deacons can also give themselves a coat of arms and thus a coat of arms.


Motto of the fire brigades in Austria
  • In varietate concordia (Latin): “United in diversity” - motto of the European Union
  • Omnia vincit amor (lat.): "Love conquers everything" - motto of some high medieval knights, especially tournament fighters. It is indicated by an A , which the knight either uses in the coat of arms or wears embroidered on his clothing.
  • Sapere aude ! (Latin): “Dare to be understanding” or, according to Immanuel Kant : “Have the courage to use your own understanding!” - the motto of the Enlightenment
  • Mentem alit et excolit (Latin): “(She) nourishes and educates the spirit” - motto of the Austrian National Library
  • Honor to God, to defend your neighbor - motto of many volunteer fire brigades ; mostly to be found on the flag, also with the Austrian fire brigades
  • Pride and Industry ( Engl. ): "Pride and diligence" - motto of Barbados

Motto on historical musical instruments

  • Acta virum probant (lat.): "The man shows himself in his deeds" (painting by Jan Steen)
  • Soli deo gloria (lat.): "Glory to God alone"
  • Laudate eum in chordis et organo (Latin, quotation from Psalm 150, 4): "Praise him with strings and flute!"

See also


  • Max Löbe:

Web links

Wikiquote: motto  - quotes
Commons : Mottos  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. - Zurich: 20 Batz, 1812.
  2. - Basel: 1/2 Thaler 1765
  3. ^ Basel, Assis, 1708
  4. - Lucerne: 5 Batzen, 1813
  5. - Zurich: Ducat, 1810.
  6. - Zurich: 10 Schilling, 1806
  7. ^ Motto, motto and motto of German princely families of the XVI. and XVII. Century. Barth, Leipzig 1883 in: Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek - accessed on July 6, 2020