from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Relating to or characteristic of a mother or motherhood; motherly: maternal instinct.
  • adj. Inherited from one's mother: a maternal trait.
  • adj. Related through one's mother: my maternal uncle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a mother; having the characteristics of a mother, motherly.
  • adj. Related through the mother, or her side of the family.
  • adj. Derived from the mother as opposed to the foetus during pregnancy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a mother; becoming to a mother; motherly

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to a mother or to motherhood; proper to a mother; motherly: as, maternal love or authority; maternal pains or cares.
  • Relating to or consisting of mothers; concerning the state of motherhood: as, a maternal association; a maternal hospital.
  • Coming from or through a mother; imparted by or connected with one's mother: as, a maternal inheritance; a maternal uncle or cousin; maternal ancestry or lineage.
  • Of or pertaining to the country of one's birth; native; vernacular.
  • Synonyms Parental, etc. See motherly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. relating to or characteristic of or befitting a parent
  • adj. characteristic of a mother
  • adj. relating to or derived from one's mother
  • adj. related on the mother's side


Middle English, from Old French maternel, from Medieval Latin māternālis, from Latin māternus, from māter, mother.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French maternel or post-Classical Latin māternālis ("maternal"), from māternus ("maternal"), from māter ("mother"). (Wiktionary)



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