[ muh-tur-nl ]
/ məˈtɜr nl /


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.

Origin of maternal

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

OTHER WORDS FROM maternal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for maternal

British Dictionary definitions for maternal

/ (məˈtɜːnəl) /


of, relating to, derived from, or characteristic of a mother
related through the mother's side of the familyhis maternal uncle

Derived forms of maternal

maternalism, 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

Medical definitions for maternal

[ mə-tûrnəl ]


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.