leitmotif

If you notice the subject of freedom coming up again and again in a book you're reading for English class, you can impress your teacher by calling it a leitmotif, or a theme that recurs.

The noun leitmotif is most useful for talking about music, and it usually comes up in the context of classical music, whenever a particular phrase or tune is repeated. The word comes from the German Leitmotiv, which literally means "lead motif," or "guiding motif." Though leitmotif makes music experts think of Wagner's operas when they hear it, it's been around at least since Mozart's time.

Definitions of leitmotif
  1. noun
    a melodic phrase that accompanies the reappearance of a person or situation (as in Wagner's operas)
    synonyms: leitmotiv
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    type of:
    air, line, melodic line, melodic phrase, melody, strain, tune
    a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence
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