Definition of maternal in English:


Syllabification: ma·ter·nal
Pronunciation: /məˈtərnl


1Of or relating to a mother, especially during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth: maternal age maternal care
More example sentences
  • There was no evidence to show an effect of maternal or paternal age on the frequency of nondisjunction.
  • In addition, the female fetus itself influenced the course of maternal asthma through pregnancy.
  • First is the inherent colinearity between maternal smoking in pregnancy and childhood.
on one's mother's side
dated on the distaff side
1.1 [attributive] Related through the mother’s side of the family: my maternal grandfather
More example sentences
  • I'm not sure about the maternal side of the family, but I don't think it is any further back than that.
  • It is not just passed on from the maternal side of the family and may affect siblings differently.
  • I just am concerned with letting her bond with her maternal side of the family.
1.2Denoting feelings associated with or typical of a mother; motherly: maternal instincts
More example sentences
  • But, for women there are powerful instincts and maternal feelings at play.
  • Although I am fairly open-minded, my maternal feelings tend to rear their ugly head at this issue.
  • She just couldn't seem to invoke any maternal feelings inside of herself.
motherly, protective, caring, nurturing, loving, devoted, affectionate, fond, warm, tender, gentle, kind, kindly, comforting


late 15th century: from French maternel, from Latin maternus, from mater 'mother'.



Pronunciation: /-ˌizəm/
More example sentences
  • But the safety of their refuge-along with its chance for selfdiscoveries about solitude and community, maternalism and sexuality, childish insouciance and adult responsibility-cannot last forever.
  • Enlivened by her sunny maternalism and inviting bosom, and concerned for her fatherless offspring, he discovers that he can make them smile and be boys again by joining them in their fantasy world.
  • It was no small feat to replace faith in common sense maternalism with confidence in genderblind specialization, especially in relation to work that touched such allegedly ordinary, familiar, and private aspects of life.


More example sentences
  • Middle class and elite women with maternalist goals were more concerned about the moral than the physical safety of young women and believed that domestic service provided a safe space for young women (They also needed servants).
  • While the politics of maternalist welfare, and the policies adopted, varied from one country to another, the overall trend was toward extensive state aid and propaganda designed to promote motherhood.
  • Other women (such as women printers) opposed any sort of maternalist legislation that may have dictated the terms of their employment.


Pronunciation: /məˌtərnlˈistik/
More example sentences
  • Even at the most immediate level, her actions stand for a distorted maternalistic urge to treat ‘approaching wayfarers’ as children, to exercise control by mystification and to deal out ruthless punishment.
  • He lives in a maternalistic and patronising establishment, which offers the inmates a certain type of kindness but no independence or choice in their everyday lives.


More example sentences
  • Perhaps lighting fires is not aberrant behavior; humans may react almost maternally to the absence of fire in a landscape that craves it.
  • In them was an exotic assortment of metal tools, maternally wrapped.
  • She seems completely benign as she chats maternally with the teenager about his studies.

Definition of maternal in:

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Pronunciation: ˈbɪmb(ə)l
walk or travel at a leisurely pace