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[muhth -er-in-law] /ˈmʌð ər ɪnˌlɔ/
noun, plural mothers-in-law.
the mother of one's husband or wife.
Origin of mother-in-law
1350-1400; Middle English modyr in lawe Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mother-in-law
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His mother-in-law had always lived with him, and she was "difficult."

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • That woman, I am quite sure and confident, will be our mother-in-law.'

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • In other homes the daughter-in-law serves her mother-in-law.

  • I am but mother-in-law to them,' she said, 'having not been married yet full two years.


    James Anthony Froude
  • Her mother-in-law said, 'Go, return,' and she did as she was told.

    Things as They Are Amy Wilson-Carmichael
British Dictionary definitions for mother-in-law


noun (pl) mothers-in-law
the mother of one's wife or husband
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mother-in-law

mid-15c., "mother of one's spouse," from mother (n.1) + in-law. Also in early use, "stepmother." In British slang c.1884, mother-in-law was "a mixture of ales old and bitter."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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