Motion is the way things get from place to place. The ball rolling down a hill is in motion, and as Isaac Newton once proved, it will remain in motion until it hits a wall or something else that makes it stop.

When motion is used as a noun, it describes movement, like the motion that propels a car from one end of the highway to another. When used as a verb, motion means to signal or direct. "A restaurant patron will motion to the server when he's ready for the check." Someone who is just "going through the motions" doesn't have to move at all, because they're just pretending.

Definitions of motion

n the act of changing location from one place to another

“police controlled the motion of the crowd”
move, movement
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approach, approaching, coming
the act of drawing spatially closer to something
advance, advancement, forward motion, onward motion, procession, progress, progression
the act of moving forward (as toward a goal)
locomotion, travel
self-propelled movement
lunge, lurch
the act of moving forward suddenly
travel, traveling, travelling
the act of going from one place to another
chase, following, pursual, pursuit
the act of pursuing in an effort to overtake or capture
ascending, ascension, ascent, rise
the act of changing location in an upward direction
the act of changing your location in a downward direction
swing, swinging, vacillation
changing location by moving back and forth
the act of going back to a prior location
coast, glide, slide
the act of moving smoothly along a surface while remaining in contact with it
failing to hold or slipping out of place
flow, stream
the act of flowing or streaming; continuous progression
a very slow movement
hurrying, speed, speeding
changing location rapidly
displacement, translation
the act of uniform movement
shift, shifting
the act of moving from one place to another
haste, hurry, rush, rushing
the act of moving hurriedly and in a careless manner
maneuver, manoeuvre, play
a deliberate coordinated movement requiring dexterity and skill
the movement of persons from one country or locality to another
emigration, expatriation, out-migration
migration from a place (especially migration from your native country in order to settle in another)
immigration, in-migration
migration into a place (especially migration to a country of which you are not a native in order to settle there)
the act of approaching or entering
closing, closure
approaching a particular destination; a coming closer; a narrowing of a gap
landing approach
the approach to a landing field by an airplane
an effort to advance
career, life history
the general progression of your working or professional life
a steady advance
clear sailing, easy going, plain sailing
easy unobstructed progress
swinging by the arms from branch to branch
walk, walking
the act of traveling by foot
the act of walking somewhere
the act of changing location by raising the foot and setting it down
a horse's manner of moving
run, running
the act of running; traveling on foot at a fast pace
jog, lope, trot
a slow pace of running
crawl, crawling, creep, creeping
a slow mode of locomotion on hands and knees or dragging the body
circle, circuit, lap
movement once around a course
traveling around something (by ship or plane)
traveling or wandering around
traversal, traverse
travel across
roving, vagabondage, wandering
travelling about without any clear destination
traveling (especially on foot)
traveling across
the act of controlling and steering the movement of a vehicle or animal
horseback riding, riding
travel by being carried on horseback
air, air travel, aviation
travel via aircraft
jump, parachuting
descent with a parachute
journey, journeying
the act of traveling from one place to another
leg, stage
a section or portion of a journey or course
travel by stagecoach
on the road, on tour
travelling about
taking an excursion for pleasure
seafaring, water travel
travel by water
commutation, commuting
the travel of a commuter
tracking, trailing
the pursuit (of a person or animal) by following tracks or marks they left behind
shadowing, tailing
the act of following someone secretly
stalk, stalking
the act of following prey stealthily
the act of raising (a body) from the ground by presumably spiritualistic means
heave, heaving
the act of lifting something with great effort
climb, mount
the act of climbing something
soar, zoom
the act of rising upward into the air
dive, nose dive, nosedive
a steep nose-down descent by an aircraft
abseil, rappel
(mountaineering) a descent of a vertical cliff or wall made by using a doubled rope that is fixed to a higher point and wrapped around the body
a swift descent through the air
crash dive
a rapid descent by a submarine
the act of dropping something
collapse, flop
the act of throwing yourself down
the act of entering again
the act of sending an accused person back into custody to await trial (or the continuation of the trial)
sideslip, skid, slip
an unexpected slide
the act of sliding down a snow-covered slope while standing on a snowboard
release, spill, spillage
the act of allowing a fluid to escape
flood, outpouring, overflow
a large flow
acceleration, quickening, speedup
the act of accelerating; increasing the speed
the act of decelerating; decreasing the speed
scud, scudding
the act of moving along swiftly (as before a gale)
the approach run during which an athlete gathers speed
advancing as if in the child's game, by leaping over obstacles or competitors
dance step, step
a sequence of foot movements that make up a particular dance
bolt, dash
the act of moving with great haste
scamper, scramble, scurry
rushing about hastily in an undignified way
the act of taking the ball or puck away from the team on the offense (as by the interception of a pass)
a predetermined set of movements in dancing or skating
completion, pass completion
(American football) a successful forward pass in football
ball hawking
a skillful maneuver in catching balls or in stealing the ball from the opposing team
(sports) the act of enabling another player to make a good play
icing, icing the puck
(ice hockey) the act of shooting the puck from within your own defensive area the length of the rink beyond the opponent's goal
the performance of a juggler
getting in someone's way
baseball play
(baseball) a play executed by a baseball team
the manner of using the feet
shot, stroke
(sports) the act of swinging or striking at a ball with a club or racket or bat or cue or hand
any one of the repeated movements of the limbs and body used for locomotion in swimming or rowing
blitz, linebacker blitzing, safety blitz
(American football) defensive players try to break through the offensive line
mousetrap, trap play
(American football) a play in which a defensive player is allowed to cross the line of scrimmage and then blocked off as the runner goes through the place the lineman vacated
gold rush
a large migration of people to a newly discovered gold field
Type of:
the action of changing something

n a change of position that does not entail a change of location

“the reflex motion of his eyebrows revealed his surprise”
motility, move, movement
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(physiology) moving of a body part away from the central axis of the body
(physiology) moving of a body part toward the central axis of the body
the act of agitating something; causing it to move around (usually vigorously)
body English
a motion of the body by a player as if to make an object already propelled go in the desired direction
a circular movement of a limb or eye
the act of disturbing something or someone; setting something in motion
fetal movement, foetal movement
motion of a fetus within the uterus (usually detected by the 16th week of pregnancy)
dart, flit
a sudden quick movement
motion of hands or body to emphasize or help to express a thought or feeling
headshake, headshaking
the act of turning your head left and right to signify denial or disbelief or bemusement
inclination, inclining
the act of inclining; bending forward
eversion, everting, inversion
the act of turning inside out
inversion, upending
turning upside down; setting on end
jerk, jerking, jolt, saccade
an abrupt spasmodic movement
kick, kicking
a rhythmic thrusting movement of the legs as in swimming or calisthenics
kneel, kneeling
supporting yourself on your knees
lurch, pitch, pitching
abrupt up-and-down motion (as caused by a ship or other conveyance)
eye movement
the movement of the eyes
the act of opening something
the act of assuming a prostrate position
reach, reaching, stretch
the act of physically reaching or thrusting out
alternating back-and-forth movement
the act of assuming or maintaining a reclining position
the act of pulling or holding or drawing a part back
retroflection, retroflexion
the act of bending backward
rotary motion, rotation
the act of rotating as if on an axis
closing, shutting
the act of closing something
the act of assuming or maintaining a seated position
posing, sitting
(photography) the act of assuming a certain position (as for a photograph or portrait)
the act of snapping the fingers; movement of a finger from the tip to the base of the thumb on the same hand
squat, squatting
the act of assuming or maintaining a crouching position with the knees bent and the buttocks near the heels
a movement in an arc
an abrupt movement
quiver, quivering, vibration
the act of vibrating
a movement like that of a sudden occurrence or increase in a specified phenomenon
flicker, flutter, waver
the act of moving back and forth
the act of assuming or maintaining an erect upright position
span, straddle
the act of sitting or standing astride
a single complete movement
squirm, wiggle, wriggle
the act of wiggling
eurhythmics, eurhythmy, eurythmics, eurythmy
the interpretation in harmonious bodily movements of the rhythm of musical compositions; used to teach musical understanding
jab, jabbing, poke, poking, thrust, thrusting
a sharp hand gesture (resembling a blow)
ritual hand movement in Hindu religious dancing
a short abrupt inclination (as of the head)
the act of nodding the head
an inclination of the top half of the body forward and downward
involuntary movements of the eyeballs; its presence or absence is used to diagnose a variety of neurological and visual disorders
a rapid, jerky movement of the eyes between positions of rest
the act of turning or winding or folding around a central axis
feather, feathering
turning an oar parallel to the water between pulls
gyration, whirling
the act of rotating in a circle or spiral
the act of turning on (or as if on) a pivot
rotation of the hands and forearms so that the palms face downward
spin, twirl, twist, twisting, whirl
the act of rotating rapidly
flying downward in a helical path with a large radius
rotation of the hands and forearms so that the palms face upward
turn, twist
turning or twisting around (in place)
twist, wind, winding
the act of winding or twisting
the act of causing something to move up and down (or back and forth) with quick movements
agitating a liquid with an implement
shake, wag, waggle
causing to move repeatedly from side to side
the act of moving something by repeated tugs or pushes
careen, rock, sway, tilt
pitching dangerously to one side
overturn, turnover, upset
the act of upsetting something
shudder, tremor
an involuntary vibration (as if from illness or fear)
the act of reaching out
key stroke, keystroke
the stroke of a key; one depression of a key on a keyboard
(ballet) the outward rotation of a dancer's leg from the hip
a stroke or blow
a stroke with a curved piece of wood with taut horsehair strands that is used in playing stringed instruments
carnival, circus
a frenetic disorganized (and often comic) disturbance suggestive of a large public entertainment
disorganisation, disorganization
the disturbance of a systematic arrangement causing disorder and confusion
disruption, perturbation
the act of causing disorder
commotion, din, ruckus, ruction, rumpus, tumult
the act of making a noisy disturbance
furor, furore
a sudden outburst (as of protest)
havoc, mayhem
violent and needless disturbance
battle royal, melee, scrimmage
a noisy riotous fight
agitation, excitement, hullabaloo, turmoil, upheaval
disturbance usually in protest
outburst, tumultuous disturbance
a sudden violent disturbance
rampage, violent disorder
violently angry and destructive behavior
derangement, overthrow, upset
the act of disturbing the mind or body
swimming kick
a movement of the legs in swimming
a powerful stroke with the fist or a weapon
Type of:
the action of changing something

n the use of movements (especially of the hands) to communicate familiar or prearranged signals

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a gesture that is part of a sign language
a deliberate and vigorous gesture or motion
a beckoning gesture
facial expression, facial gesture
a gesture executed with the facial muscles
a showy gesture
a gesture of greeting or elation; one person's upraised palm slaps the upraised palm of another person
previous question
a motion calling for an immediate vote on the main question under discussion by a deliberative assembly
a gesture involving the shoulders
wafture, wave, waving
the act of signaling by a movement of the hand
V sign
a sign (for victory); making a V with the index and middle fingers
a sign of assent or salutation or command
bow, bowing, obeisance
bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame or greeting
sign of the cross
a gesture with the right hand moving to form a cross; used by Catholics as a profession of faith
curtsey, curtsy
bending the knees; a gesture of respect made by women
a representation of a facial expression (as a smile or frown) created by typing a sequence of characters in sending email
an expression of openmouthed astonishment
face, grimace
a contorted facial expression
frown, scowl
a facial expression of dislike or displeasure
grin, grinning, smile, smiling
a facial expression characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth; usually shows pleasure or amusement
a facial expression characteristic of a person laughing
an angry vicious expression
straight face
a serious facial expression giving no evidence of interest or amusement
closing one eye quickly as a signal
the facial expression of sudden pain
brandish, flourish
the act of waving
genuflection, genuflexion
the act of bending the knees in worship or reverence
kotow, kowtow
a former Chinese custom of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of respect or submission
scrape, scraping
a deep bow with the foot drawn backwards (indicating excessive humility)
a deep bow; a Muslim form of salutation
Type of:
visual communication
communication that relies on vision

n a natural event that involves a change in the position or location of something

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crustal movement, tectonic movement
movement resulting from or causing deformation of the earth's crust
approach, approaching
the event of one object coming closer to another
passage, passing
the motion of one object relative to another
deflection, deflexion
the movement of the pointer or pen of a measuring instrument from its zero position
bend, bending
movement that causes the formation of a curve
change of location, travel
a movement through space that changes the location of something
undulation, wave
(physics) a movement up and down or back and forth
a small irregular movement
periodic motion, periodic movement
motion that recurs over and over and the period of time required for each recurrence remains the same
(geology) a horizontal dislocation
backlash, rebound, recoil, repercussion
a movement back from an impact
kick, recoil
the backward jerk of a gun when it is fired
the movement of a read/write head to a specific data track on a disk
squeeze, wring
a twisting squeeze
cam stroke, stroke, throw
the maximum movement available to a pivoted or reciprocating piece by a cam
turn, turning
a movement in a new direction
twist, wrench
a jerky pulling movement
wavelike motion; a gentle rising and falling in the manner of waves
moving ridge, wave
one of a series of ridges that moves across the surface of a liquid (especially across a large body of water)
an unsteady rocking motion
commotion, whirl
confused movement
Brownian motion, Brownian movement, pedesis
the random motion of small particles suspended in a gas or liquid
(astronomy) the rising of a star above the horizon
free movement or passage (as of cytoplasm within a cell or sap through a plant)
a slow longitudinal movement or deformation
breaker, breakers, surf
waves breaking on the shore
backwash, wake
the wave that spreads behind a boat as it moves forward
the movement or sound of water
riffle, ripple, rippling, wavelet
a small wave on the surface of a liquid
gravitation wave, gravity wave
(physics) a wave that is hypothesized to propagate gravity and to travel at the speed of light
sine wave
a wave whose waveform resembles a sine curve
oscillation, vibration
(physics) a regular periodic variation in value about a mean
a wave motion
a wave on the surface of a lake or landlocked bay; caused by atmospheric or seismic disturbances
standing wave, stationary wave
a wave (as a sound wave in a chamber or an electromagnetic wave in a transmission line) in which the ratio of its instantaneous amplitude at one point to that at any other point does not vary with time
traveling wave, travelling wave
a wave in which the medium moves in the direction of propagation of the wave
acoustic wave, sound wave
(acoustics) a wave that transmits sound
wave form, wave shape, waveform
the shape of a wave illustrated graphically by plotting the values of the period quantity against time
blast wave, shock wave
a region of high pressure travelling through a gas at a high velocity
crestless wave, swell
the undulating movement of the surface of the open sea
lift, rise
a wave that lifts the surface of the water or ground
billow, surge
a large sea wave
tidal wave
a wave resulting from the periodic flow of the tides that is caused by the gravitational attraction of the moon and sun
tidal wave
an unusual (and often destructive) rise of water along the seashore caused by a storm or a combination of wind and high tide
a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption
roll, roller, rolling wave
a long heavy sea wave as it advances towards the shore
harmonic motion
a periodic motion in which the displacement is either symmetrical about a point or is the sum of such motions
bounce, bouncing
rebounding from an impact (or series of impacts)
resilience, resiliency
an occurrence of rebounding or springing back
the stroke of an engine piston moving away from the crankshaft
the stroke of an engine piston moving toward the crankshaft
a long curling sea wave
white horse, whitecap
a wave that is blown by the wind so its crest is broken and appears white
movement downward resulting from gravitational attraction
movement upward in virtue of lightness
a movement downward
an abnormal wobble in a motor vehicle (especially in the front wheels)
entering, entrance
a movement into or inward
a movement downward
flow, flowing
the motion characteristic of fluids (liquids or gases)
carom, ricochet
a glancing rebound
deflection, deflexion, refraction
the amount by which a propagating wave is bent
reversal, turn around
turning in an opposite direction or position
swerve, yaw
an erratic deflection from an intended course
impulse, pulsation, pulse, pulsing
(electronics) a sharp transient wave in the normal electrical state (or a series of such transients)
flap, flapping, flutter, fluttering
the motion made by flapping up and down
gyration, revolution, rotation
a single complete turn (axial or orbital)
advance, progress, progression
a movement forward
ascension, ascent, rise, rising
a movement upward
spread, spreading
process or result of distributing or extending over a wide expanse of space
a wild headlong rush of frightened animals (horses or cattle)
a uniform movement without rotation
coming back, return
the occurrence of a change in direction back in the opposite direction
a rolling or revolving motion
Type of:
happening, natural event, occurrence, occurrent
an event that happens

n a formal proposal for action made to a deliberative assembly for discussion and vote

“he made a motion to adjourn”
Type of:
something proposed (such as a plan or assumption)

n a state of change

“they were in a state of steady motion
lifelessness, motionlessness, stillness
a state of no motion or movement
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palpitation, quiver, quivering, shakiness, shaking, trembling, vibration
a shaky motion
perpetual motion
motion that continues indefinitely without any external source of energy; impossible in practice because of friction
the motion of a spinning body (as a top) in which it wobbles so that the axis of rotation sweeps out a cone
flow, stream
something that resembles a flowing stream in moving continuously
(music) a tremulous effect produced by rapid repetition of a single tone or rapid alternation of two tones
shaking or trembling (usually resulting from weakness or stress or disease)
Type of:
the way something is with respect to its main attributes

n an optical illusion of motion produced by viewing a rapid succession of still pictures of a moving object

apparent motion, apparent movement, movement
Type of:
optical illusion
an optical phenomenon that results in a false or deceptive visual impression

v show, express or direct through movement

gesticulate, gesture
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signal by winking
exsert, extend, hold out, put out, stretch forth, stretch out
thrust or extend out
raise one's shoulders to indicate indifference or resignation
clap, spat
clap one's hands together
acclaim, applaud, clap, spat
clap one's hands or shout after performances to indicate approval
bless, sign
make the sign of the cross over someone in order to call on God for protection; consecrate
express or signify by nodding
cross oneself
make the sign of the cross; in the Catholic religion
bow, bow down
bend one's knee or body, or lower one's head
shake (a body part) to communicate a greeting, feeling, or cognitive state
beckon, wave
signal with the hands or nod
extend a joint beyond its normal range
applaud with shouts of `bravo' or `brava'
conge, congee
perform a ceremonious bow
Type of:
communicate, intercommunicate
transmit thoughts or feelings

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