[ muhth-er ]
See synonyms for: mothermotheredmotheringmothers on

  1. a woman who has borne offspring; a female parent.

  2. Often Mother . one’s own female parent: I should give Mother a call today.Our mother did not approve of many of the shenanigans we got up to.

  1. a mother-in-law, stepmother, foster mother, female adoptive parent, or female guardian.

  2. Usually Mother . a term of address for a female parent or a woman having or regarded as having the status, function, or authority of a female parent: Thank you for coming, Mother.

  3. a woman providing care or exercising influence or authority like that of a female parent: The elderly widow next door was a mother to him.

  4. the qualities characteristic of a mother, such as maternal affection, protectiveness, responsibility, etc.: Sometimes the mother in her comes out and she'll remind her students to drive safely.

  5. something that gives rise to something else; origin or source: Imagination is the mother of possibility.

  6. a woman who originates or creates something:Marie Curie was the mother of radiography.

  7. Usually Mother .Ecclesiastical. a title of respect for certain female church leaders, such as heads of convents, bishops, or priests.: See also mother superior.

  8. Mother, a title for something personified as an older woman: Mother Earth.

  9. a term of familiar address for an old or elderly woman.

  10. Slang. a euphemism for motherfucker.

  11. Audio. (in disk recording) a mold from which stampers are made.

  1. being a female parent: I watched as the mother bird fed her baby.

  2. of, relating to, or characteristic of a mother: mother love.

  1. learned or acquired from or as if from one's mother; native: After emigrating, he never really abandoned his mother culture.

  2. bearing a relation like that of a mother, as in being the origin, source, leader, protector, etc.: The mother company issues directives to all its affiliates.The server is the mother computer for the whole network.

verb (used with object)
  1. to be the mother, origin, or source of: She mothered two children.

  2. to care for or protect like a mother; act maternally toward, sometimes in an excessive way: It’s in her nature to love and mother those around her.Stop mothering me!

  1. to acknowledge oneself the author of; assume as one's own.

verb (used without object)
  1. to perform the tasks or duties of a female parent, sometimes in an excessive way; act maternally: She’s always wanted to mother.

Idioms about mother

  1. mother of all, the greatest or most notable example of: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been called the mother of all mystery novels.

Origin of mother

First recorded before 900; Middle English mother, moder, Old English mōdor; cognate with Dutch moeder, German Mutter, Old Norse mōthir; akin to Armenian mayr, Greek mḗtēr, mā́tēr, Irish máthair, Latin māter, Latvian māte, Persian mâdar, Russian mat', Sanskrit mātar-

Other words for mother

Other words from mother

  • moth·er·less, adjective
  • moth·er·less·ness, noun
  • moth·er·like, adjective
  • un·moth·ered, adjective

Words Nearby mother

Other definitions for mother (2 of 2)

[ muhth-er ]

  1. a stringy, mucilaginous substance consisting of various bacteria, especially Acetobacter aceti, that forms on the surface of a fermenting liquid and converts ethanol to acetic acid, as in changing wine or cider to vinegar.

Origin of mother

First recorded in 1450–1500; probably special use of mother1, but perhaps another word, akin to Dutch modder “dregs,” Middle Low German moder “swampy land”; see mud Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use mother in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for mother (1 of 2)


/ (ˈmʌðə) /

    • a female who has given birth to offspring

    • (as modifier): a mother bird

  1. (often capital, esp as a term of address) a person's own mother

  1. a female substituting in the function of a mother

  2. (often capital) mainly archaic a term of address for an old woman

    • motherly qualities, such as maternal affection: it appealed to the mother in her

    • (as modifier): mother love

    • (in combination): mothercraft

    • a female or thing that creates, nurtures, protects, etc, something

    • (as modifier): mother church; mother earth

  3. a title given to certain members of female religious orders: mother superior

  4. Christian Science God as the eternal Principle

  5. (modifier) native or innate: mother wit

  6. offensive, taboo, slang, mainly US short for motherfucker offensive

  7. be mother to pour the tea: I'll be mother

  8. the mother of all … informal the greatest example of its kind: the mother of all parties

  1. to give birth to or produce

  2. to nurture, protect, etc as a mother

Origin of mother

Old English mōdor; compare Old Saxon mōdar, Old High German muotar, Latin māter, Greek mētēr

Other words from mother

  • Related adjective: maternal

Derived forms of mother

  • mothering, noun

British Dictionary definitions for mother (2 of 2)


/ (ˈmʌðə) /

  1. a stringy slime containing various bacteria that forms on the surface of liquids undergoing acetous fermentation. It can be added to wine, cider, etc to promote vinegar formation: Also called: mother of vinegar

Origin of mother

C16: perhaps from mother 1, but compare Spanish madre scum, Dutch modder dregs, Middle Low German modder decaying object, mudde sludge

Derived forms of mother

  • mothery, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with mother


In addition to the idiom beginning with mother

  • mother of

also see:

  • necessity is the mother of invention

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.