the state of being a mother; motherhood.
motherly quality; motherliness.
a section of a hospital devoted to the care of women at childbirth and of their newborn infants.


of, relating to, or for the period in which a woman is pregnant or has just given birth to a child.
for mothers during and after childbirth or for the care of their newborn babies: a maternity hospital.
for wear by pregnant women: maternity clothes.

Origin of maternity

1605–15; < Medieval Latin māternitās, equivalent to Latin mātern(us) (see maternal) + -itās -ity
Related formspre·ma·ter·ni·ty, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for maternity

gestation, parenthood, motherhood

Examples from the Web for maternity

Contemporary Examples of maternity

Historical Examples of maternity

British Dictionary definitions for maternity



the characteristics associated with motherhood; motherliness
(modifier) relating to pregnant women or women at the time of childbirtha maternity ward
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 maternity

1610s, "quality or condition of being a mother," from French maternité "motherhood" (15c.), from Medieval Latin maternitatem (nominative maternitas) "motherhood," from Latin maternus (see maternal). Used from 1893 as a quasi-adjective in reference to garments designed for pregnant women.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

maternity in Medicine




The state of being a mother; motherhood.
The feelings or characteristics associated with being a mother; motherliness.
A maternity ward.


Relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or the first months of motherhood.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.