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Motley Crew

Posted by Bruce Kahl on December 15, 2000

In Reply to: Motley Crew posted by Anne on December 14, 2000

: Does anyone know the origin of the phrase, 'motley crew'? We know what it means, but where did it come from and who used it first? Thanks!

I do not know who used it first but motley is an adjective meaning "speck" from the Middle English mot or mote which in Middle Dutch can mean "sand".
Sand is composed of diverse and often incongruous elements--hence, the term "motley crew", a phrase maybe describing the employees of a ocean going vessel.