Ask Difference

Mantra vs. Motto — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 2, 2024
A mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation, often with spiritual significance, while a motto is a brief statement adopted as a guiding principle or slogan by an individual, organization, or nation.
Mantra vs. Motto — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Mantra and Motto


Key Differences

Mantras originate from Hinduism and Buddhism, serving as sacred utterances believed to possess spiritual power. These phrases or sounds are repeated during meditation to focus the mind and achieve a state of spiritual consciousness. Mottos, however, are secular in nature and serve as succinct expressions of a guiding belief, aim, or principle that reflects the values or ethos of an entity or individual.
While mantras are deeply personal and often used in private meditation or spiritual practices, mottos are typically public and designed to encapsulate the identity or aspirations of a group, institution, or individual in a memorable way. Mantras can be in Sanskrit or other languages, depending on the spiritual tradition, and are chosen for their sound and vibrational quality, which is believed to have a direct impact on the practitioner’s spiritual and physical well-being. Conversely, mottos are selected for their semantic content and are used to inspire, motivate, or unify a group around a common theme or goal.
The use of mantras is primarily for personal spiritual growth and enlightenment, focusing on the inward journey and individual experience. Mottos, on the other hand, often aim to communicate a collective identity or commitment and can be found in a variety of contexts, including family crests, educational institutions, and national emblems, serving as a reminder of shared values and aspirations.
While a mantra may be a tool for personal transformation and connection with the divine, a motto acts as a beacon or rallying cry, guiding actions and decisions towards a defined purpose or ethos. The former is a key part of spiritual rituals and meditation practices, while the latter plays a significant role in branding, identity formation, and the articulation of collective goals.

Comparison Chart


Hinduism and Buddhism, used in spiritual practices.
Secular, used by individuals, organizations, and nations.


To aid concentration in meditation and achieve spiritual growth.
To express a guiding principle or aim in a memorable way.


Personal and private, often in meditation.
Public, encapsulating identity or aspirations.


Often in Sanskrit or related to a spiritual tradition.
Any language, chosen for semantic content.


Spiritual enlightenment and personal well-being.
Inspiring or motivating towards a common goal or value.


Sacred and spiritual.
Secular and guiding.

Context of Use

Spiritual rituals and meditation practices.
Branding, identity, and articulation of collective goals.

Compare with Definitions


A spiritual tool for concentration and enlightenment.
His daily practice included a mantra to enhance mindfulness.


A slogan adopted by organizations for inspiration.
The company's motto, Innovation for a Better World, reflects its values.


A word or sound with spiritual power.
The mantra Om is believed to connect with universal consciousness.


Can be in any language, chosen for meaning.
The university's motto, Veritas, is Latin for truth.


Often in Sanskrit, reflecting ancient traditions.
The Gayatri Mantra is an important part of Hindu spiritual practices.


Used publicly to express ethos or aims.
The school's motto, Excellence Through Effort, is displayed at the entrance.


Used in personal spiritual practices.
She chose a personal mantra to guide her meditation sessions.


A brief statement of guiding principles.
The family's motto, Fortitude and Faith, adorned their crest.


A sacred utterance repeated during meditation.
She recited her mantra softly, focusing her mind.


Reflects collective identity or aspirations.
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity serves as the motto of France.


A mantra (Sanskrit: मन्त्र, romanized: mantra, ; Pali: mantaṃ) or mantram is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit, Pali and other languages believed by practitioners to have religious, magical or spiritual powers. Some mantras have a syntactic structure and literal meaning, while others do not.The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit in India.


A motto (derived from the Latin muttum, 'mutter', by way of Italian motto, 'word', 'sentence') is the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. Mottos are usually found predominantly in written form (unlike slogans, which may also be expressed orally), and may stem from long traditions of social foundations, or from significant events, such as a civil war or a revolution.


(Hinduism) A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities.


A short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals of an individual, family, or institution
The family motto is ‘Faithful though Unfortunate’


A commonly repeated word or phrase, especially in advocacy or for motivation
"The mantra of solid-waste management has long been reduce, reuse, recycle" (Susan Freinkel).


A phrase which recurs throughout a musical work and has some symbolical significance
They were developing the use of leitmotifs or mottoes that appear throughout an opera


A concept or fact that is mentioned repeatedly, especially in advocacy
"Another mantra of housing bulls in America is that national average house prices have never fallen for a full year since modern statistics began" (Economist).


A brief statement used to express a principle, goal, or ideal
“We explain that when someone is cruel, or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to their level—no, our motto is ‘when they go low, we go high'” (Michelle Obama).


(Hinduism) The hymn portions of the Vedas; any passage of these used as a prayer.


(heraldry) A sentence, phrase, or word, forming part of an heraldic achievement.


A phrase repeated to assist concentration during meditation.


A sentence, phrase, or word, prefixed to an essay, discourse, chapter, canto, or the like, suggestive of its subject matter; a short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle; a maxim.


(by extension) A slogan or phrase often repeated.


(obsolete) A paper packet containing a sweetmeat, cracker, etc., together with a scrap of paper bearing a motto.


A prayer; an invocation; a religious formula; a charm.


(intransitive) To compose mottos.


A commonly repeated word or phrase;
She repeated `So pleased with how its going' at intervals like a mantra


A sentence, phrase, or word, forming part of an heraldic achievment.


(Sanskrit) literally a `sacred utterance' in Vedism; one of a collection of orally transmitted poetic hymns


A sentence, phrase, or word, prefixed to an essay, discourse, chapter, canto, or the like, suggestive of its subject matter; a short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle; a maxim.
It was the motto of a bishop eminent for his piety and good works, . . . "Serve God, and be cheerful."


A favorite saying of a sect or political group

Common Curiosities

What is the main difference between a mantra and a motto?

A mantra is a spiritual phrase used in meditation, while a motto is a guiding principle or slogan for individuals or groups.

Can mantras be in languages other than Sanskrit?

Yes, while many are in Sanskrit, mantras can be in any language, depending on the spiritual tradition.

How does one choose a mantra?

A mantra is often chosen based on its spiritual significance, sound, and the personal connection one feels towards it.

Is it necessary to understand the meaning of a mantra for it to be effective?

Understanding can enhance the practice, but the vibrational quality of the mantra also plays a significant role in its effectiveness.

How are mottos created?

Mottos are crafted to succinctly express the core values, aspirations, or identity of a person or group, often through a collaborative process.

Do mantras have to be religious?

While often spiritual, mantras can also be secular, focusing on personal growth or well-being without religious content.

Are there rules for creating a mantra?

Traditionally, mantras are selected for their spiritual significance and vibrational quality, but personal mantras may be chosen for their meaningfulness to the individual.

Are mottos only used by organizations?

No, mottos can be adopted by individuals, families, organizations, and even nations as expressions of their guiding principles.

How do cultural differences affect the perception of mantras and mottos?

Cultural backgrounds can influence the value placed on spiritual practices and collective identities, shaping how mantras and mottos are viewed and used.

Can a motto have a spiritual aspect?

While typically secular, mottos can reflect spiritual values or beliefs, especially if they are personal or family mottos.

Can organizations have mantras?

While organizations typically adopt mottos, they may also promote specific mantras for mindfulness or focus among their members.

Can the use of a motto change over time?

Yes, as individuals or organizations evolve, their guiding principles and, consequently, their mottos may also change to reflect new values or goals.

Can a mantra and a motto be the same phrase?

Theoretically, yes, if a phrase serves both as a spiritual tool for meditation and as a guiding principle or slogan.

How do mottos influence behavior?

Mottos act as reminders of one's values and principles, guiding decisions and actions towards achieving stated goals or ideals.

What is the significance of repeating a mantra?

Repeating a mantra helps to focus the mind, facilitate deeper meditation, and foster a spiritual connection.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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