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See more synonyms for motherly on Thesaurus.com
  1. pertaining to, characteristic of, or befitting a mother; maternal: motherly solicitude.
  2. like a mother: to take a motherly interest in an orphan.
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  1. in the manner of a mother.
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Origin of motherly

before 1000; Middle English moderly, Old English mōdorlīc. See mother1, -ly
Related formsmoth·er·li·ness, nounun·moth·er·ly, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for motherly

affectionate, careful, comforting, devoted, fond, gentle, kind, loving, maternal, nurturing, protective, supporting, sympathetic, tender, warm, watchful, caretaking, protecting

Examples from the Web for motherly

Contemporary Examples of motherly

Historical Examples of motherly

  • The landlady looked at him in a motherly way and shook her head.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • But Alice was supposed to be a widow; and Alice was so meek, so docile, so motherly.

  • She looked at Good Indian afterward, studying his face with motherly solicitude.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • I came down and threw myself, repentant and wretched, into her motherly arms.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • "Sweetheart, you mustn't fret," she soothed, in motherly fashion.

British Dictionary definitions for motherly


  1. of or resembling a mother, esp in warmth, or protectiveness
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Derived Formsmotherliness, noun
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 motherly


Old English modorlic "pertaining to a mother;" see mother (n.1) + -ly (1). Meaning "befitting a mother" is from mid-13c. Related: Motherliness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper