- a female parent.
- (often initial capital letter) one's female parent.
- a mother-in-law, stepmother, or adoptive mother.
- a term of address for a female parent or a woman having or regarded as having the status, function, or authority of a female parent.
- a term of familiar address for an old or elderly woman.
- mother superior.
- a woman exercising control, influence, or authority like that of a mother: to be a mother to someone.
- the qualities characteristic of a mother, as maternal affection: It is the mother in her showing itself.
- something or someone that gives rise to or exercises protecting care over something else; origin or source.
- (in disc recording) a mold from which stampers are made.
- being a mother: a mother bird.
- of, relating to, or characteristic of a mother: mother love.
- derived from or as if from one's mother; native: his mother culture.
- bearing a relation like that of a mother, as in being the origin, source, or protector: the mother company and its affiliates; the mother computer and its network of terminals.
- to be the mother of; give origin or rise to.
- to acknowledge oneself the author of; assume as one's own.
- to care for or protect like a mother; act maternally toward.
- to perform the tasks or duties of a female parent; act maternally: a woman with a need to mother.
- mother of all, the greatest or most notable example of: the mother of all mystery novels.
Origin of mother1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for motherless
When Motherless Brooklyn won the National Book Critics Circle Award, I felt I could exhale, after working frenetically.How I Write: Jonathan Lethem
September 25, 2013
Motherless babies are far less likely than others to survive their first two years.Christy Turlington's Labor of Love
June 9, 2010
Behind these statistics are the stories of promising lives cut short and of the motherless children left behind.The Fight for Women's Lives
The Daily Beast
September 25, 2009
For a moment he felt as if Vere were bereaved, were motherless.A Spirit in Prison
"God bless my motherless girl," he said, in a voice no louder than a breath.The Manxman
Her little daughter will be motherless, our home will be broken up.Where Angels Fear to Tread
E. M. Forster
My child––what will she do––poor, motherless, fatherless girl––all alone, all alone––.The Strollers
Frederic S. Isham
Motherless—old Billy, a poor shote, according to the gossip!Janet of the Dunes
Harriet T. Comstock
- not having a mother
- Australian informal (intensifier)motherless broke
- a female who has given birth to offspring
- (as modifier)a mother bird
- (often capital, esp as a term of address) a person's own mother
- a female substituting in the function of a mother
- (often capital) mainly archaic a term of address for an old woman
- motherly qualities, such as maternal affectionit appealed to the mother in her
- (as modifier)mother love
- (in combination)mothercraft
- a female or thing that creates, nurtures, protects, etc, something
- (as modifier)mother church; mother earth
- a title given to certain members of female religious ordersmother superior
- Christian Science God as the eternal Principle
- (modifier) native or innatemother wit
- offensive, taboo, slang, mainly US short for motherfucker offensive
- be mother to pour the teaI'll be mother
- the mother of all … informal the greatest example of its kindthe mother of all parties
- to give birth to or produce
- to nurture, protect, etc as a mother
- a stringy slime containing various bacteria that forms on the surface of liquids undergoing acetous fermentation. It can be added to wine, cider, etc to promote vinegar formationAlso called: mother of vinegar
Word Origin and History for motherless
Old English modor "female parent," from Proto-Germanic *mothær (cf. Old Saxon modar, Old Frisian moder, Old Norse moðir, Danish moder, Dutch moeder, Old High German muoter, German Mutter), from PIE *mater- "mother" (cf. Latin mater, Old Irish mathir, Lithuanian mote, Sanskrit matar-, Greek meter, Old Church Slavonic mati), "[b]ased ultimately on the baby-talk form *mā- (2); with the kinship term suffix *-ter-" [Watkins]. Spelling with -th- dates from early 16c., though that pronunciation is probably older.
Mother nature first attested c.1600; mother earth is from 1580s. Mother tongue "one's native language" first attested late 14c. Mother of all ________ 1991, is Gulf War slang, from Saddam Hussein's use in reference to the coming battle; it is an Arabic idiom (as well as an English one), cf. Ayesha, second wife of Muhammad, known as Mother of Believers. Mother Carey's chickens is late 18c. sailors' nickname for storm petrels, or for snowflakes. Mother lode attested by c.1882, from mining .
1540s, "to be the mother of," from mother (n.1). Meaning "to take care of" is from 1863. Related: Mothered; mothering.
"a thick substance concreting in liquors; the lees or scum concreted" [Johnson], probably from Middle Dutch modder "filth, dregs," from PIE *meu- (see mud).
- A woman who conceives, gives birth to, or raises and nurtures a child.
- A female parent of an animal.
- A structure, such as a mother cell, from which other similar bodies are formed.