or mam·ma

[ mah-muh; for 1 also muh-mah ]
/ ˈmɑ mə; for 1 also məˈmɑ /
Save This Word!

Informal. mother1.
  1. a sexually attractive, usually mature woman.
  2. one's wife.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?
Also mom·ma [mom-uh] /ˈmɒm ə/ .

Origin of mama

First recorded in 1545–55; nursery word, with parallels in other European languages, probably in part inherited or borrowed, in part newly formed; compare Latin mamma, Greek mámmē “breast, mama” (see mamma2), French maman “mama,” Welsh mam “mother” (from unattested mammā )
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does mama mean?

Mama is an informal word for mother.

Mama can also be spelled momma and mamma. Mama is informal, and it’s often used by young children, much like the word mommy. Adults also sometimes use mama to refer to their mothers, especially when they have a close relationship.

The word can be used as a title for one’s mother, as in You should call Mama, and as a way to address her, as in Hi, Mama—happy Mother’s Day! In these two uses, the word is usually capitalized since it’s used like a proper name.

Mama can also be used as an informal way to refer to one’s mother, as in You should call your mama. 

Call your mama whatever you want—just remember to call her.

Where does mama come from?

The first records of the word mama come from the 1500s, but it was certainly used in speech much earlier than that. The word for mother in many languages around the world begins with the m sound, which is one of the first sounds babies learn how to make. In mama, the syllable ma is reduplicated, which is a fancy way of saying it’s said twice. This is very common in the speech of young children—the same thing happens in the word dada, the baby word for “daddy.”

Using the word mama often implies a closeness between a person and their mother, as well as a sense of respect. A mother may even use it to refer to herself, as in You have all made me such a proud mama. To which you would say: I love you, Mama!

Sometimes, the word mama is used as a slang term to refer to an attractive woman, especially an older one (perhaps one who is a mother, though not always), as in I was one hot mama in my day, let me tell you.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to mama?

  • momma (alternate spelling)
  • mamma (alternate spelling)

What are some synonyms for mama?

What are some words that share a root or word element with mama



What are some words that often get used in discussing mama?


How is mama used in real life?

Mama is always used informally, and it’s often affectionate.



Try using mama!

True or False? 

Mama should be capitalized when it’s used to address someone directly, as in Thank you, Mama.

How to use mama in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for mama

/ (məˈmɑː) /

old-fashioned an informal word for mother 1
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