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a combining form meaning “mother,” used in the formation of compound words: matrilineal.
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
Also matro-; especially before a vowel, matr-.

Origin of matri-

<Latin, combining form of mātermother1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does matri- mean?

The combining form matri- is used like a prefix meaning “mother.” It is used in a variety of everyday and scientific terms, especially in anthropology.

The form matri- comes from Latin māter, meaning “mother.” The word matrix, which has various meanings, including “womb,” comes from this same Latin root, as does matron, “a married woman.”

The “father” counterpart to matri- is patri-. Check out our Words That Use article for patri- to learn more.

The Greek cognate of Latin māter is mḗtēr, also meaning “mother,” which is the source of words such as metropolis, a term that literally means “mother city.” Find out more at our entries for matrix, matron, and metropolis.

What are variants of matri-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, matri- becomes matr-, as in matral. Another rare variant of matri- is matro-, as in matrocliny. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use articles for each of these forms.

Examples of matri-

An example of a word you may have encountered that features matri- is matrilineal, “inheriting or determining descent through the female line.”

We know matri- means “mother,” while the -lineal portion refers to “line,” from Latin līneālis. Matrilineal literally translates to “mother’s line.”

What are some words that use the combining form matri-?

What are some other forms that matri- may be commonly confused with?

Not every word that begins with the exact letters matri- or matr-, such as matrass or matriculate, is necessarily using the combining form matri- to denote “mother.” Learn why matriculate means “to enroll” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

The combining form -archy means “rule” or “government.” With this in mind, what is a matriarchy?

How to use matri- in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for matri-


combining form
mother or motherhoodmatriarchy

Word Origin for matri-

from Latin 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