This word is by definition a short piece of choral music and a word of French origin according to the etymology section on Wiktionary. Although it is not stated specifically if motet falls under the category of Middle, Modern or Old French. It can be used and spoken by native speakers today but to which time and form of the French language is it best attributed?

1 Answer 1


The TLFi gives everything you are looking for:

Étymol. et Hist. 1. Fin XIIes. «petit mot» (Orson de Beauvais, 532 ds T.-L.: un sol motet sonner) rare, cependant encore attesté au XVIIes. (Carloix ds Littré). 2. ca 1270 «petit poème, (d'inspiration religieuse ou non) destiné à être chanté, à deux, trois ou quatre parties distinctes» (Rutebeuf, La desputoison de Challot et du Barbier ds Œuvres, éd. E. Faral et J.Bastin, t.2, p.264); 3. 1680 «morceau de musique composé sur des paroles religieuses, destiné à être exécuté à l'église, sans faire partie de l'office divin» (Rich.). Diminutif de mot* à l'aide du suffixe -et*.

So motet was already there in Old French (12th century) and is a diminutive of mot (word), kind of similar to "wordlet". I should add that I hadn't heard about that word before your question.

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