Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

maternal

[muh-tur-nl]
See more synonyms for maternal on Thesaurus.com
adjective
  1. of, pertaining to, having the qualities of, or befitting a mother: maternal instincts.
  2. related through a mother: his maternal aunt.
  3. derived from a mother: maternal genes.
Show More

Origin of maternal

1475–85; < Medieval Latin māternālis, equivalent to Latin mātern(us) (māter mother1 + -nus adj. suffix) + -ālis -al1
Related formsma·ter·nal·ism, nounma·ter·nal·is·tic, adjectivema·ter·nal·ly, adverbnon·ma·ter·nal, adjectivenon·ma·ter·nal·ly, adverbqua·si-ma·ter·nal, adjectivequa·si-ma·ter·nal·ly, adverbun·ma·ter·nal, adjectiveun·ma·ter·nal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

parentalaffectionatekindprotectivesympathetic

Examples from the Web for maternal

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Mary was, in many things, a child; but her attitude had grown to be maternal.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • But Mary, regardless of maternal cacklings, sped after the doctor as he turned his horse.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • I have always thought that her affection for her father was less filial than maternal.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Could the Madonna, who was so maternal, desire the woe of lovers?

  • Unlike most maternal peoples, these, the Zuñi Indians, are monogamists.

    The Truth About Woman

    C. Gasquoine Hartley


British Dictionary definitions for maternal

maternal

adjective
  1. of, relating to, derived from, or characteristic of a mother
  2. related through the mother's side of the familyhis maternal uncle
Show More
Derived Formsmaternalism, nounmaternalistic, adjectivematernally, adverb

Word Origin

C15: from Medieval Latin māternālis, from Latin māternus, from māter mother
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

Word Origin and History for maternal

adj.

late 15c., from Old French maternel (14c.), from Vulgar Latin *maternalis, from Latin maternus "maternal, of a mother," from mater "mother" (see mother (n.1)).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

maternal in Medicine

maternal

(mə-tûrnəl)
adj.
  1. Relating to or characteristic of a mother.
  2. Inherited from one's mother.
Show More
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.