To mottle is to speckle or dapple with dots. An artist might mottle a canvas by dripping splotches of paint on it.

You can also use mottle as a noun, for a patchy arrangement of color or light: "The dog's fur was a mottle of brown and black." The adjective mottled is more common than mottle for describing things marked with spots or blotches, and both words come from motley, which today means "mismatched" but was originally defined as "multicolored."

Definitions of mottle
  1. verb
    mark with spots or blotches of different color or shades of color as if stained
  2. verb
    color with streaks or blotches of different shades
    synonyms: cloud, dapple
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    variegate with spots or marks
    speckle, stipple
    produce a mottled effect
    type of:
    mark with a spot or spots so as to allow easy recognition
  3. noun
    an irregular arrangement of patches of color
    “it was not dull grey as distance had suggested, but a mottle of khaki and black and olive-green”
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    type of:
    color, coloring, colour, colouring
    a visual attribute of things that results from the light they emit or transmit or reflect
Word Family

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