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

  • n. A female person who is pregnant with or gives birth to a child.
  • n. A female person whose egg unites with a sperm, resulting in the conception of a child.
  • n. A woman who adopts a child.
  • n. A woman who raises a child.
  • n. A female parent of an animal.
  • n. A female ancestor.
  • n. A woman who holds a position of authority or responsibility similar to that of a mother: a den mother.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church A mother superior.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church Used as a form of address for such a woman.
  • n. A woman who creates, originates, or founds something: "the discovery of radium, which made Marie Curie mother to the Atomic Age” ( Alden Whitman).
  • n. A creative source; an origin: Philosophy is the mother of the sciences.
  • n. Used as a title for a woman respected for her wisdom and age.
  • n. Maternal love and tenderness: brought out the mother in her.
  • n. The biggest or most significant example of its kind: the mother of all battles.
  • n. Vulgar Slang Something considered extraordinary, as in disagreeableness, size, or intensity.
  • adj. Relating to or being mother.
  • adj. Characteristic of a mother: mother love.
  • adj. Being the source or origin: the mother church.
  • adj. Derived from or as if from one's mother; native: one's mother language.
  • transitive v. To give birth to; create and produce.
  • transitive v. To watch over, nourish, and protect maternally.
  • intransitive v. To act or serve as a mother.
  • n. A stringy slime composed of yeast cells and bacteria that forms on the surface of fermenting liquids and is added to wine or cider to start the production of vinegar.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A (human) female who (a) parents a child or (b) gives birth to a baby. Sometimes used in reference to a pregnant female, possibly as a shortened form of mother-to-be (c).
  • n. A female parent of an animal.
  • n. A female ancestor.
  • n. A source or origin, viewed affectionately.
  • n. A title of respect for one's mother-in-law.
  • n. Any elderly woman, especially within a particular community.
  • n. Any person or entity which performs mothering.
  • n. A film or membrane which is developed on the surface of fermented alcoholic liquids, such as vinegar, wine, etc., and acts as a means of conveying the oxygen of the air to the alcohol and other combustible principles of the liquid, thus leading to their oxidation.
  • v. To treat as a mother would be expected to treat her child; to nurture.
  • n. Something that is the greatest or most significant of its kind.
  • n. motherfucker.
  • n. A striking example.
  • n. A cat that catches moths.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Received by birth or from ancestors; native, natural; ; also acting the part, or having the place of a mother; producing others; originating.
  • n. A female parent; especially, one of the human race; a woman who has borne a child.
  • n. That which has produced or nurtured anything; source of birth or origin; generatrix.
  • n. An old woman or matron.
  • n. The female superior or head of a religious house, as an abbess, etc.
  • n. Hysterical passion; hysteria.
  • n. A film or membrane which is developed on the surface of fermented alcoholic liquids, such as vinegar, wine, etc., and acts as a means of conveying the oxygen of the air to the alcohol and other combustible principles of the liquid, thus leading to their oxidation.
  • n. Same as motherfucker.
  • n. A person or thing with some exceptional quality, as great size or power.
  • intransitive v. To become like, or full of, mother, or thick matter, as vinegar.
  • transitive v. To adopt as a son or daughter; to perform the duties of a mother to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To be or act as a mother to; treat in a motherly fashion.
  • To become concreted, as the thick matter of liquors; become mothery.
  • n. A woman in relation to her child; female parent: also used of female animals in relation to their offspring.
  • n. That which has given birth to anything; source of anything; generatrix.
  • n. A familiar appellation or term of address of an old or elderly woman.
  • n. A title sometimes given to an abbess, and to other women holding an important position in religious or semi-religious institutions.
  • n. A hysterical malady.
  • n. The thickest plate, forming the body or principal part, of the astrolabe.
  • n. Dregs; lees.
  • n. A stringy, mucilaginous substance which forms in vinegar during the acetous fermentation, and the presence of which sets up and hastens this kind of fermentation. It is produced by a plant, Mycoderma aceti, the germs of which, like those of the yeast-plant, exist in the atmosphere.
  • n. Same as mauther.

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

  • n. a term of address for an elderly woman
  • v. make children
  • v. care for like a mother
  • n. a term of address for a mother superior
  • n. a condition that is the inspiration for an activity or situation
  • n. a stringy slimy substance consisting of yeast cells and bacteria; forms during fermentation and is added to cider or wine to produce vinegar
  • n. a woman who has given birth to a child (also used as a term of address to your mother)


Middle English moder, mother, from Old English mōdor. N., sense 10, translation of Iraqi Arabic 'umm. N., sense 11, short for motherfucker.
Probably alteration (influenced by mother1) of obsolete Dutch moeder, from Middle Dutch, probably from moeder, mother of children.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English moder, from Old English mōdor, from Proto-Germanic *mōdēr (compare West Frisian moer, Saterland Frisian Muur, Dutch moeder, German Mutter, Danish moder), from Proto-Indo-European *méh₂tēr (compare Irish máthair, Latin mater, Albanian motër ("sister"), Tocharian A mācar, B mācer, Lithuanian mótė, Russian мать (mat'), Greek μητέρα (mitéra), Persian مادر (mâdar), Sanskrit मातृ (mā́tṛ)). (Wiktionary)
Calque of Arabic أم (’umm, mother). (Wiktionary)
Shortened from motherfucker (Wiktionary)
Coined from moth by analogy to mouser. (Wiktionary)


  • While Suzanna didn't move from her place, she wanted to stay at some distance that she might look her soul's full at her mother -- _her mother_!

    Suzanna Stirs the Fire

  • It was different in Hella's case, first of all because she had such frightful cramps before it began so that her mother knew all about it without being told, and secondly because it was her _mother_.

    A Young Girl's Diary

  • But now -- now he will be taught to lie; and to hate what is good; and be brought up a Papist; and bidden to forget his mother -- his _mother_! '

    Penshurst Castle In the Days of Sir Philip Sidney

  • My father did not always see when I was not able to listen to him, though he was most considerate when he did; but my mother -- why, to be with her was like being with one's own -- _mother_, I was actually going to write.

    The Vicar's Daughter

  • In _Coriolanus_, Shakespeare makes Volumnia the mother, and Virgilia the wife, of Coriolanus; but his _wife_ was Volumnia, and his _mother_

    Character Sketches of Romance, Fiction and the Drama, Vol. 1 A Revised American Edition of the Reader's Handbook

  • But when I am gone, dearest -- when my babes have no mother -- oh, go to _my mother_, and tell her -- tell her, William -- that it was the dying request of her Maria, that she would be as a mother to them.

    Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume XXIII

  • The only impression that his mother ought to make on Carl is what I have already told him, -- namely, to respect her as _his mother_, but _not to follow her example in any respect_; he must be strongly warned against this.

    Beethoven's Letters 1790-1826, Volume 2

  • Perhaps it might be _birth-dame_ for _mother_; let us stand over our mother that lies bleeding on the ground.

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  • Iizuka said he does not believe North Korea� claim that his mother was killed in a car accident in 1986. �alf of the investigation papers North Korea gave were blacked out and my mother� name was omitted.


  • _divide families_, not to unite them; to rend kingdoms, not to knit them up; I am come _to set mother against daughter and daughter against mother_; I am come not to establish universal toleration, but universal

    Paradoxes of Catholicism


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