AskDefine | Define mother

Dictionary Definition



1 a woman who has given birth to a child (also used as a term of address to your mother); "the mother of three children" [syn: female parent] [ant: father, father]
2 a stringy slimy substance consisting of yeast cells and bacteria; forms during fermentation and is added to cider or wine to produce vinegar
3 a term of address for an elderly woman
4 a condition that is the inspiration for an activity or situation; "necessity is the mother of invention"


1 care for like a mother; "She fusses over her husband" [syn: fuss, overprotect]
2 make children; "Abraham begot Isaac"; "Men often father children but don't recognize them" [syn: beget, get, engender, father, sire, generate, bring forth]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Mother



  • a RP /ˈmʌðə/, /"mVD@/
  • a US /ˈmʌðɚ/, /"mVD@`/
  • Rhymes: -ʌðə(r)
  • Hyphenation: moth·er

Etymology 1

From moder < modor < < . Cognates include Modern Greek sc=Grek, German Mutter, Common Slavic *Appendix:Proto-Slavic *mati (Russian sc=Cyrl), Latin mater, Persian sc=fa-Arab, Mycenaean Greek 𐀔𐀳𐀩, and Sanskrit मातृ.


  1. In the context of "when followed by a surname": A title of respect for one's mother-in-law.
    Mother Smith, meet my cousin, Doug Jones.


  1. A woman who has, conceives, gives birth to, or raises a child.
    My sister-in-law has just become a mother.
    Nutrients and oxygen obtained by the mother are conveyed to the fetus.
  2. One’s female parent.
    I am visiting my mother today.
  3. A female ancestor.
  4. A source or origin, viewed affectionately.
    The Mediterranean was mother to many cultures and languages.
  5. A female parent of an animal.
    The lioness was a mother of four cubs.
one’s female parent
  • 1988: “He had something of his mother in him, but this was because he realized that in the end only her love was unconditional, and in gratitude he had emulated her.” — Second Son, Robert Ferro
a woman who has, conceives, gives birth to, or raises a child
  • 1991: "The antiabortion iconography in the last decade featured the fetus but never the mother." — The Undeclared War Against American Women, Susan Faludi.
woman who has, conceives, gives birth to, or raises a child
one’s female parent


  1. To treat as a mother would be expected to treat her child; to nurture.
to treat as a mother would be expected to
  • Danish: være mor for, tage sig ordentlig af
  • Dutch: bemoederen, koesteren
  • German: bemuttern
  • Vietnamese: chăm sóc, nuôi, nuôi nấng

Etymology 2

Calque of Arabic (’umm, mother).


  1. Something that is the greatest or most significant of its kind.
    "The great duel, the mother of all battles has begun." — Saddam Hussein
something that is the greatest of its kind
  • Catalan: mare
  • Finnish: äiti
  • German: Mutter
  • Hebrew: אֵם (em)
  • Latin: maximus
  • Slovene: mati

Etymology 3

Shortened from motherfucker

Alternative spellings


  1. In the context of "coarse|slang": motherfucker.
See motherfucker

Extensive Definition

"Mom", "Mum", and "Mommy" redirect here. For other uses, see Mom (disambiguation), Mum (disambiguation) and Mommy (disambiguation).
A mother is a biological and/or social female parent of an offspring. In the case of a mammal such as a human, the biological mother gestates a fertilized ovum, which is called first an embryo, and then a fetus. This gestation occurs in the mother's uterus from conception until the fetus is sufficiently developed to be born. The mother then goes into labor and gives birth. Once the child is born, the mother produces milk in a process called lactation to feed the child; often the mother's breast milk is the child's sole nourishment for the first year or more of the child's life.
The title mother is often given to a woman other than the biological parent, if it is she who fulfills the social role. This is most commonly either an adoptive mother or a stepmother (the biologically unrelated wife of a child's father). Currently, with advances in reproductive technologies, the function of biological motherhood can be split between the genetic mother (who provides the ovum) and the gestational mother (who carries the pregnancy), and in theory neither might be the social mother (the one who brings up the child).
Mothers have historically fulfilled the primary role in the raising of children, but since the late 20th century, the role of the father in child care has been given greater prominence in most Western countries.
The experience of motherhood varies greatly depending upon location. The organization Save the Children has ranked the countries of the world, and found that Scandinavian countries are the best places to be a mother, whereas countries in sub-Saharan Africa are the worst. A mother in the bottom 10 countries is over 750 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a mother in the top 10 countries, and a mother in the bottom 10 countries is 28 times more likely to see her child die before reaching his or her first birthday.

Synonyms and translations

Familiar or colloquial terms for mother in English are:
  • mom or mommy, in most of North America (especially the U.S.). It is used widely in the West Midlands, in the UK.
  • mum or mummy, is used in the UK, Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Ma, Mam or Mammy is used in Ireland and sometimes in the UK.
  • "mama" is used in many countries, but is considered a Spanish form of "mother"
  • In many other languages, similar pronunciations apply; mama in Polish and Slovak, māma in Mandarin Chinese, máma in Czech, maman in French, mamma in Italian, or mãe in Portuguese. Mama, borrowed from the English, is in common use in Japan. In Hebrew the word is eema (אמא), and in many south Asian cultures and the Middle East the mother is known as amma or oma or ammi or "ummi", or variations thereof. Many times these terms denote affection or a maternal role in a child's life.

Legendary & mythological mothers


mother in Afrikaans: Moeder
mother in Arabic: أم
mother in Aragonese: Mai
mother in Aymara: Tayka
mother in Bengali: মা
mother in Bosnian: Majka
mother in Breton: Mamm
mother in Bulgarian: Майка
mother in Catalan: Mare
mother in Czech: Matka
mother in German: Mutter
mother in Estonian: Ema
mother in Spanish: Madre
mother in Esperanto: Patrino
mother in French: Mère
mother in Korean: 어머니
mother in Italian: Madre
mother in Kannada: ತಾಯಿ
mother in Kinyarwanda: Mama
mother in Latin: Mater
mother in Lithuanian: Mama
mother in Ligurian: Moæ
mother in Malagasy: Reny
mother in Malayalam: അമ്മ
mother in Marathi: आई
mother in Dutch: Moeder
mother in Dutch Low Saxon: Moor (meens)
mother in Newari: आमा
mother in Japanese: 母親
mother in Norwegian: Mor
mother in Norwegian Nynorsk: Mor
mother in Portuguese: Mãe
mother in Romanian: Mamă
mother in Simple English: Mother
mother in Slovak: Matka (biológia)
mother in Serbian: Мајка
mother in Finnish: Äiti
mother in Swedish: Mor
mother in Tamil: தாய்
mother in Telugu: తల్లి
mother in Thai: แม่
mother in Cherokee: ᎤᏂᏥ
mother in Turkish: Anne
mother in Ukrainian: Мати
mother in Yiddish: מוטער
mother in Contenese: 阿媽
mother in Chinese: 母親

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

SOB, agent, ancestorial, ancestors, ancestral, apprentice, architect, artificer, artist, attend to, aunt, auntie, author, baby, baby-sit, bastard, bear, beget, begetter, beginner, birth, blood brother, breed, breed true, brethren, bring to birth, brother, bub, bubba, bud, buddy, bugger, builder, care for, catalyst, causer, chaperon, cherish, coddle, conceiver, conserve, constructor, copulate, cosset, country cousin, cousin, cousin once removed, cousin twice removed, cradle, craftsman, creator, creep, crossbreed, cultivate, dam, daughter, designer, deviser, discoverer, dry-nurse, effector, engender, engenderer, engineer, executor, executrix, fart, father, fatherlike, fatherly, feed, first cousin, fondle, foster, foster brother, foster mother, founder, frater, generate, generator, genesis, genetrix, get, give birth to, grandfatherly, grandmotherly, grandnephew, grandniece, grandparental, granduncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, grower, half brother, heel, hood, hooligan, inaugurator, inbreed, indulge, industrialist, initiator, innate, inspirer, instigator, institutor, introducer, inventor, jerk, journeyman, keep watch over, kid brother, lavish care on, look after, look out for, look to, louse, ma, make love, maker, mam, mama, mamma, mammy, manufacturer, master, master craftsman, mater, materfamilias, maternal, maternal ancestor, matriarch, matronize, maw, meanie, mind, minister to, mom, mommy, motherlike, motherly, mover, multiply, mum, mummy, native, natural, nephew, niece, nourish, nuncle, nunks, nunky, nurse, nurture, nurturer, old, old lady, old woman, organizer, origin, originator, outbreed, pamper, parent, parental, past master, paternal, patriarchal, pill, planner, precursor, preserve, prime mover, primum mobile, procreate, producer, progenitrix, proliferate, propagate, protect, protege, provide for, raiser, rat, realizer, reproduce in kind, ride herd on, second cousin, see after, see to, serve, shaper, shelter, shepherd, shit, shithead, shitheel, sire, sis, sissy, sister, sister-german, sistern, smith, son, source, spoil, spoon-feed, stepbrother, stepmother, stepsister, stinkard, stinker, suckle, support, sustain, take care of, take charge of, tend, the old woman, turd, unc, uncle, uncs, uterine brother, wait on, watch, watch out for, watch over, wellspring, wet-nurse, wright
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1