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also leit·mo·tiv  (līt′mō-tēf′)
1. A melodic passage or phrase, especially in Wagnerian opera, associated with a specific character, situation, or element.
2. A dominant and recurring theme, as in a novel.

[German Leitmotiv : leiten, to lead (from Middle High German, from Old High German leitan; see leit- in Indo-European roots) + Motiv, motif (from French motif; see motif).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈlaɪtməʊˌtiːf) or


1. (Classical Music) music a recurring short melodic phrase or theme used, esp in Wagnerian music dramas, to suggest a character, thing, etc
2. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) an often repeated word, phrase, image, or theme in a literary work
[C19: from German leitmotiv leading motif]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈlaɪt moʊˌtif)

a motif or theme associated throughout a music drama with a particular person, situation, or idea.
[1875–80; < German: leading motive]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


A German word meaning leading motif, used to mean the main or recurring theme in something.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.leitmotif - a melodic phrase that accompanies the reappearance of a person or situation (as in Wagner's operas)
melodic line, melodic phrase, melody, tune, strain, air, line - a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence; "she was humming an air from Beethoven"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun theme, idea, strain, phrase, melody, motif The song's title could serve as a leitmotif for her life.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


leitmotiv [ˈlaɪtməʊtiːf] nleitmotiv m
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


, leitmotiv
n (Mus, fig) → Leitmotiv nt
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in periodicals archive ?
Quatre leitmotivs guident la strategie du Groupe sur le continent : la synergie, la performance, l'expertise et le developpement au service des populations.
"Ever since 2008, two things have been the leitmotivs of Macedonia's European integration.
The first establishes the importance of film music as a subject for scholarly inquiry; the second examines the music and culture of Middle-earth (anchored in the text, not the Peter Jackson film adaptations); the third discusses Howard Shore's score in more detail, focusing on several important musical motifs--"the primary themes of each culture presented in Jackson's film" (9); the fourth discusses the role of the audience, exploring the same set of musical leitmotivs as well as alterations in those themes over the course of the films; and the fifth offers conclusions and suggestions for further study.
The remarkable improvement in women's education is one example of the first of two leitmotivs that inform the empirical chapters, namely the interplay between aspects of tradition and aspects of modernity in education policy.
Apart from these leitmotivs the book contains contributions on specific aspects of ordinary life influenced by the spreading of contagious diseases (the plague, smallpox, or syphilis): from Montaigne's idea of using impregnated moustaches as a natural safeguard against contagion (Helene Cazes) to the protective role of the votive images of St Francis Xavier in Naples during the seventeenth century (Rose Marie San Juan), the social effects of epidemic disease in Germany (Mitchell Lewis Hammond), the perception of contagion in French memorialistic texts (Frederic Charbonneau), and the fear of smallpox in eighteenth-century England (David Shuttleton).
Scholars in music and cultural studies from the US and the UK analyze the role of pre-existing music, aspects of high and low culture, meaning, ambiguity, leitmotivs, music by Grieg and Mozart, and films including Eyes Wide Shut, Amadeus, The Godfather Part III, Young Frankenstein, French cinema, those by Almodovar, those using Carmen, and films about girls' rites of passage.
Those who know Vasa Mihailovich's opus will recognize familiar leitmotivs that, as dear friends, come back to revisit and touch us gently once again.
However, like the body, work is never transcended; it is only relocated, redefined, and retooled, and in Eye/Machine III there is no end of such training: Farocki shows it underway at video arcades, before computer games, through army ads, and so on; all of us TV viewers of the Gulf War series, he suggests, are also "turned into war technicians." This is another of his leitmotivs that elaborate on Benjamin: In a fascist manner, such images have produced a pervasive "empathy for the technology of war." (19)
Cooper identifies appearances of leitmotivs, and when no music examples are present, is not afraid to spell out chords and melodic ideas.
Wagner solves this problem through the use of leitmotivs, intertwining and varying them in such a way that they often lay bare the psyche.
Stevenson also employs a range of dance leitmotivs, characteristic steps for each character, which in places leads to a certain dance monotony, although Stevenson sidesteps this in his duets, which are typically fluent and imaginative.