Definition of mother in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmʌðə/


1A woman in relation to her child or children: she returned to Bristol to nurse her ageing mother a mother of three
More example sentences
  • In eight of these cities, more than 60% of births were to unwed mothers.
  • The average age of mothers who gave birth in 2000 was 30.
  • To prove this she interviewed mothers who had given birth prematurely and discovered that a high proportion of them had suffered stress events in pregnancy.
female parent, materfamilias, matriarch;
biological mother, birth mother, foster mother, adoptive mother, stepmother, surrogate mother
informal ma, mam, mammy, old dear, old lady, old woman
British informal mum, mummy, mumsy
North American informal mom, mommy
British informal, dated mater
dated mama, mamma
Indian  Mata
Indian informal amma
rare progenitress, progenitrix
1.1A female animal in relation to its offspring: [as modifier]: a mother penguin
More example sentences
  • Females stay with their mothers, forming a group of related animals that co-operate to bring up and feed the latest litters of cubs.
  • Orangutan offspring stay with their mothers until they're seven or eight years old, but orangutans are on the lower end of the sociability scale among great apes.
  • Cub aggression, however, is not necessarily higher among offspring of high-ranking mothers, the study says.
1.2 archaic (Especially as a form of address) an elderly woman.
Example sentences
  • ‘Mother,’ said the conductor, ‘do you want to go to Denver?’
1.3 [as modifier] Denoting an institution or organization from which others of the same type derive: the initiatives were based on the experience of the mother company
More example sentences
  • In general, it is given the task of filling market niches in which the mother company does not compete.
  • He argues that there is only one mother church, which is the Catholic church, so it is terminologically incorrect to call say the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches sister churches as it places them on a level of equality.
1.4 informal An extreme example or very large specimen of something: I got stuck in the mother of all traffic jams
More example sentences
  • Perhaps, the cricket coaches and psychologists should speak to them about how to motivate the team to win the mother of all cricketing contests.
  • I look around to see, watching me, two glass bead eyes stitched onto the mother of all big handbags.
  • Next, the restaurant lays out the mother of all meals, a Royal Thai degustation feast.
2 (Mother, Mother Superior, or Reverend Mother) (Especially as a title or form of address) the head of a female religious community.
Example sentences
  • Sr. Elizabeth Ann Eckert is the new reverend mother of the Anglican Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, succeeding Sr. Constance Joanna Gefvert.
  • Mother Aquinas faced the decision with great courage and tact.
3North American vulgar slang short for motherfucker.


[with object]
1 (often as noun mothering) Bring up (a child) with care and affection: the art of mothering
More example sentences
  • With a husband fighting in the war, likely to die at any moment, and a farm of wounded, vulgar soldiers, mothering a child would not be an easy task.
  • One child, abandoned years earlier at hospital by his mother, has attached himself to Nancy, who mothers the orphan, discipline and all.
  • Topics include mothering, fathering, marriages, family group processes, sibling relations, and families.
1.1Look after (someone) kindly and protectively, sometimes excessively so: she mothered her husband, insisting he should take cod liver oil in the winter
More example sentences
  • What's more, the judge seems surely, perhaps instinctively, to be protecting him - mothering him.
  • Fluent in five languages, highly informed and a stickler for precise dates and details, she is equally at ease mothering me with biscuits, stuffing plant cuttings into my hands or scolding me for my dismal grasp of the Czech language.
  • She dominated the compartment and decided to wield her power over me as well, mocking my stuttering Hindi and mothering me by forcing me to eat.
look after, care for, take care of, nurture, nurse, protect, cherish, tend, raise, rear;
pamper, coddle, cosset, baby, overprotect, overparent, fuss over, indulge, spoil
2 dated Give birth to: her declining years had tricked her into believing she’d mothered another son of God
More example sentences
  • Emma O'Leary mothered four sons before her husband ran off with another woman, leaving her to raise the boys on her own.
give birth to, have, deliver, bear, produce, bring forth;
North American  birth
informal drop
archaic be brought to bed of


Old English mōdor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch moeder and German Mutter, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin mater and Greek mētēr.

  • English mother, Dutch moeder, and German Mutter share their ancient ancestor with Latin mater (source of madrigal (late 16th century), maternal (Late Middle English), matriarch (late 16th century), matrimony (Late Middle English), matrix (Late Middle English), and matter (Middle English) the last two containing the idea of something from which something is made or born). The root probably came from the use of the sound ma made by babies, identified by mothers as a reference to themselves. The British expression some mothers do 'ave 'em, commenting on a person's clumsy or foolish behaviour, was apparently originally a Lancashire saying. The comic Jimmy Clitheroe popularized it, as ‘don't some mothers 'ave 'em, in his BBC radio programme The Clitheroe Kid, which ran from 1958 to 1972. The phrase gained further currency as the title of a 1970s BBC television comedy series Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, in which Michael Crawford starred as the clumsy, accident-prone Frank Spencer. The former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is remembered as having promised the mother of all battles on the eve of the first Gulf War. On 7 January 1991 The Times reported that he had no intention of relinquishing Kuwait and was ready for the ‘mother of all wars’. The proverb necessity is the mother of invention is first recorded in 1658, in Northern Memoirs by R. Franck: ‘Art imitates Nature, and Necessity is the Mother of Invention.’ The idea can be traced back further to classical times, to the Roman satirist Persius, who stated that ‘The belly is the teacher of art and giver of wit’.

Words that rhyme with mother

another, brother, other, smother, t'other

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: mother

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