mother figure

Save This Word!

a woman embodying or seeming to embody the qualities of an idealized conception of the female parent, eliciting from others the emotional responses that a child typically has toward its mother.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.
Also called mother image.

Origin of mother figure

First recorded in 1930–35
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a mother figure?

A mother figure is a person who embodies the qualities that are often seen as ideal in a female parent, eliciting similar responses from people that would normally be seen when interacting with their mother. A mother figure can be any person who displays the qualities of a mother even if they themselves are not a mother.

Mother figures are usually identified by both heteronormative gender roles and traditional Western gender roles, but this is not always the case. While a mother figure is normally a woman, they can be anyone who represents an ideal portrayal of the female parent.

Typical Western representations of mother–child relationships show that the child will grow attached and somewhat reliant emotionally and physically on the mother because the mother has nurtured the child from birth. When someone is seen as a mother figure, it may be because someone has come to rely on them as one would their own mother.

Example: Sasha was Liam’s  mother figure when no one else would be.

Where does mother figure come from?

The first records of the term mother figure come from around the 1930s. It combines the term mother, meaning “a female parent,” with the term figure, meaning “a character or personage,” to mean “someone who embodies the character of a female parent.”

Mother figure is closely related with the term father figure, a person who represents the Western ideals of the father–child relationship.

Today, mother figure, or mother image, is no longer used exclusively to define those who identify as a woman or whose sex is female. A mother figure can be a person of any gender who follows the traditional motherly model of nurturing, counseling, and close care of a child. Anyone who is a source of comfort or care in a person’s life, especially when they lack a caring mother or a biological mother, may be termed a mother figure.

Did you know … ?

What are some synonyms for mother figure?

  • mother image

What are some words that share a root or word element with mother figure?

What are some words that often get used in discussing mother figure?

How is mother figure used in real life?

Mother figure is used in reference to someone who children have in their lives rather than their actual mother or someone who reminds a person of a mother.



Try using mother figure!

Is mother figure used correctly in the following example?

“Although I didn’t have a mother growing up, I was lucky to have many mother figures to guide me.”

How to use mother figure in a sentence