Definitions

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

  • adj. Of, like, or appropriate to a mother: motherly love.
  • adj. Showing the affection of a mother.
  • adv. In a manner befitting a mother.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Befitting a mother, warm, caring, nurturing, protective, loving.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a mother; like, or suitable for, a mother; tender; maternal.
  • adv. In a manner of a mother.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to a mother: as, motherly power or authority.
  • Becoming or characteristic of a mother; tender; parental; affectionate: as, motherly love or care.
  • Like a mother.
  • Synonyms Motherly, Maternal, Parental. The same distinction holds between the Anglo-Saxon word and the Latin ones in this list that is found in the words compared under brotherly and under fatherly.
  • In the manner of a mother.

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

  • adv. in a maternal manner; as a mother
  • adj. befitting a mother; warm and nurturing

Etymologies

mother +‎ -ly (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Is she "lacking in motherly inhibitions and propriety and self-control" [p. 156]?

    Runaway by Alice Munro: Questions

  • She was quiet, simple; in short, motherly, when seen by Cooper the winter of 1828-29.

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • She was quiet, simple; in short, motherly, when seen by Cooper the winter of

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Almost every woman who meets him feels either the secret urge to fuck him, or becomes awash in motherly protective urges, or both.

    Why I Hate Sandman

  • In charged Bella Abzug, who former Ms. editor Suzanne Braun Levine noted wasn't "polite" or "motherly" -- and therefore, everyone from the conservatives to the peace activists were wary of.

    Jessica Wakeman: On Sexist Media Coverage of Hillary Clinton

  • You can be called the motherly one, if you are in a group of people, which doesn't have to be bad.

    qdiosa Diary Entry

  • From the time of her first acquaintance with him, till her death, in 1821, she treated him with the most flattering regard, -- with an affection, indeed, that might be called motherly, had there not been in it an element of excitement which was neither maternal nor dignified.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 43, May, 1861 Creator

  • "Welcome to Elk Lodge!" called a motherly voice, and Mrs. Macksey appeared in the open door of the main corridor.

    The Moving Picture Girls Snowbound Or, The Proof on the Film

  • "Leave Poll alone; she's in one of her trances!" called a motherly, good-natured woman whose trunk stood next to Polly's, and whose business was to support a son and three daughters upon stalwart shoulders, both figuratively and literally.

    Polly of the Circus

  • ` ` Leave Poll alone; she's in one of her trances! '' called a motherly, good-natured woman whose trunk stood next to Polly's, and whose business was to support a son and three daughters upon stalwart shoulders, both figuratively and literally.

    Polly of the Circus

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