leitmotif - definition and synonyms

noun [countable] 

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/ˈlaɪtməʊˌtiːf/
singularleitmotif
pluralleitmotifs

or leitmotiv 

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  1. 1
    music a tune that is repeated several times in a piece of music and represents a particular character or situation
  2. 2
    a word, phrase, or idea that is repeated several times in something such as a speech or book and is important for understanding the speech or book correctly