[ muhth-er-lee ]
/ ˈmʌð ər li /


pertaining to, characteristic of, or befitting a mother; maternal: motherly solicitude.
like a mother: to take a motherly interest in an orphan.


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. 2019

Examples from the Web for motherly

British Dictionary definitions for motherly


/ (ˈmʌðəlɪ) /


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