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

Origin of motherly

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

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
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper