[ muh-tur-nl ]
See synonyms for maternal on
  1. of, pertaining to, having the qualities of, or befitting a mother: maternal instincts.

  2. related through a mother: his maternal aunt.

  1. derived from a mother: maternal genes.

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Origin of maternal

1475–85; <Medieval Latin māternālis, equivalent to Latin mātern(us) (mātermother1 + -nus adj. suffix) + -ālis-al1

Other words from maternal

  • ma·ter·nal·ism, noun
  • ma·ter·nal·is·tic, adjective
  • ma·ter·nal·ly, adverb
  • non·ma·ter·nal, adjective
  • non·ma·ter·nal·ly, adverb
  • qua·si-ma·ter·nal, adjective
  • qua·si-ma·ter·nal·ly, adverb
  • un·ma·ter·nal, adjective
  • un·ma·ter·nal·ly, adverb

Words Nearby maternal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use maternal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for maternal


/ (məˈtɜːnəl) /

  1. of, relating to, derived from, or characteristic of a mother

  2. related through the mother's side of the family: his maternal uncle

Origin of maternal

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

Derived forms of maternal

  • maternalism, noun
  • maternalistic, adjective
  • maternally, adverb

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