Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, like, or appropriate to a mother.
  • adjective Showing the affection of a mother.
  • adverb In a manner befitting a mother.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In the manner of a mother.
  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • adverb in a maternal manner; as a mother
  • adjective befitting a mother; warm and nurturing

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

mother +‎ -ly

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

  • "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

  • 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

  • "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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