[ muhth-er-ing ]
/ ˈmʌð ər ɪŋ /


the nurturing of an infant or small child by its mother.
(in rural England) the custom of visiting one's parents on Laetare Sunday with a present.

Nearby words

  1. mother-out-law,
  2. motherboard,
  3. motherese,
  4. motherfucker,
  5. motherhood,
  6. mothering sunday,
  7. motherland,
  8. motherless,
  9. motherly,
  10. mothers' day

Origin of mothering

First recorded in 1640–50; mother1 + -ing1

Origin of mother

before 900; Middle English mother, moder, Old English mōdor; cognate with Dutch moeder, German Mutter, Old Norse mōthir, Latin māter, Greek mḗtēr, Sanskrit mātar-. As in father, th was substituted for d, possibly on the model of brother

Related formsmoth·er·less, adjectivemoth·er·less·ness, nounun·moth·ered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mothering

British Dictionary definitions for mothering


/ (ˈmʌðə) /


verb (tr)

to give birth to or produce
to nurture, protect, etc as a mother
Related formsRelated adjective: maternal

Derived Formsmothering, noun

Word Origin for mother

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


/ (ˈmʌðə) /


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 formationAlso called: mother of vinegar
Derived Formsmothery, adjective

Word Origin for mother

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

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 mothering
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for mothering


[ mŭðər ]


A woman who conceives, gives birth to, or raises and nurtures a child.
A female parent of an animal.
A structure, such as a mother cell, from which other similar bodies are formed.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with mothering


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.