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Line breaks: ma¦ter|nal
Pronunciation: /məˈtəːn(ə)l

Definition of maternal in English:


1Relating to a mother, especially during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth: 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, on the distaff side
1.1(Of feelings) typical of a caring mother; motherly: a mother who radiated maternal concern
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.
1.2 [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.


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



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.


Pronunciation: /-ˈlɪstɪk/
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.


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: pɪət
lively; cheerful