of, pertaining to, having the qualities of, or befitting a mother: maternal instincts.
related through a mother: his maternal aunt.
derived from a mother: maternal genes.

Nearby words

  1. materially,
  2. materials,
  3. materials handling,
  4. materials science,
  5. materiel,
  6. maternal dystocia,
  7. maternal placenta,
  8. maternalize,
  9. maternally,
  10. maternity

Origin of maternal

1475–85; < Medieval Latin māternālis, equivalent to Latin mātern(us) (māter mother1 + -nus adj. suffix) + -ālis -al1

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for maternal

British Dictionary definitions for maternal



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

Word Origin for maternal

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



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)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for maternal




Relating to or characteristic of a mother.
Inherited from one's mother.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.