Moat vs. Mote

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A moat is a broad, deep ditch that is dug around a castle or other fortress as a defense against attack. Usually, a moat is filled with water. Moat may also be used as a transitive verb, meaning to surround something in the fashion of a moat. Castles or other fortresses that are surrounded by moats usually have a drawbridge that is lowered to allow friendly visitors to cross the moat and go inside. Moat comes from the fourteenth-century Old French word mote, meaning mound, hillock, embankment, castle built on a hill.

A mote is a speck, a tiny substance.  The phrase a mote in someone’s eye refers to a person complaining about another person’s minor fault (the mote in the person’s eye) while ignoring his own, much greater fault. Mote comes from the Dutch word, mot, meaning dust from turf, sawdust or grit.


In it, Charon’s surface is smooth, with a smattering of craters and cracks – and there’s a bizarre mountain rising out of a depression that has been called a “mountain in a moat.” (National Geographic)

A few weeks ago Fort Pulaski staffers spotted a wayward loggerhead sea turtle in their moat. (Savannah Morning News)

Indeed the notion of a “wide moat” around a business has become so popular that exchange-traded fund sponsors have built portfolios around the theme. (Financial Advisor Magazine)

Lastly, are you more concerned about vetting your own party or religious fellowship for loons, nutcases, and potentially embarrassing corruption, or do you ignore the beam in your identity group’s eye in favor of loudly and publicly obsessing over the mote in the eye of the opposition? (American Thinker)

Instead of casting the beam out of its eye, it persists in pointing to the mote in the eye of its rivals. (The Times of India)

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