mother

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See also: Mother

English[edit]

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Pronunciation[edit]

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Etymology 1[edit]

A mother cat and kittens

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, Tocharian B mācer, Lithuanian mótė, Russian мать ‎(matʹ), Greek μητέρα ‎(mitéra), Armenian մայր ‎(mayr), Persian مادر ‎(mâdar), Sanskrit मातृ ‎(mātṛ)).

Noun[edit]

mother ‎(plural mothers)

  1. A (human) female who (a) parents a child (b) gives birth to a baby (c) donates a fertilized egg or (d) donates a body cell which has resulted in a clone. Sometimes used in reference to a pregnant female, possibly as a shortened form of mother-to-be.
    I am visiting my mother(a) today.My sister-in-law has just become a mother.(b)Nutrients and oxygen obtained by the mother(c) are conveyed to the fetus.
    • 1988, Robert Ferro, Second Son,
      He had something of his mother in him, but this was because he realized that in the end only her love was unconditional, and in gratitude he had emulated her.
    • 1991, Susan Faludi, The Undeclared War Against American Women,
      The antiabortion iconography in the last decade featured the fetus but never the mother.
  2. A female parent of an animal.
    The lioness was a mother of four cubs.
  3. (figuratively) A female ancestor.
    • 1525, William Tyndale, Bible, Genesis, 3, xx,
      And Ada[Adam] called his wyfe Heua[Eve] because she was the mother of all that lyveth
    • 1844, Thomas Arnold, Fragment on the Church, Volume 1, page 17,
      But one in the place of God and not God, is as it were a falsehood; it is the mother falsehood from which all idolatry is derived.
  4. (figuratively) A source or origin.
    The Mediterranean was mother to many cultures and languages.
    • 1606, William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 3, 1866, George Steevens (editor), The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, page 278,
      Alas, poor country: / Almost afraid to know itself! It cannot / Be call'd our mother, but our grave:
    • 1844, Thomas Arnold, Fragment on the Church, Volume 1, page 17,
      But one in the place of God and not God, is as it were a falsehood; it is the mother falsehood from which all idolatry is derived.
  5. (when followed by a surname) A title of respect for one's mother-in-law.
    Mother Smith, meet my cousin, Doug Jones.
  6. (figuratively) Any elderly woman, especially within a particular community.
  7. (figuratively) Any person or entity which performs mothering.
    • The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. –Judges 5:7, KJV.
    • Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. –Galatians 4:26, KJV.
  8. The principal piece of an astrolabe, into which the others are fixed.
  9. The female superior or head of a religious house; an abbess, etc.
  10. (obsolete) Hysterical passion; hysteria.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
Synonyms[edit]
Antonyms[edit]
Hypernyms[edit]
Coordinate terms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Verb[edit]

mother ‎(third-person singular simple present mothers, present participle mothering, simple past and past participle mothered)

  1. (transitive) To treat as a mother would be expected to treat her child; to nurture.
    • c. 1900, O. Henry, An Adjustment of Nature
      She had seen fewer years than any of us, but she was of such superb Evehood and simplicity that she mothered us from the beginning.
Translations[edit]

References[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Calque of Arabic أُمّ ‎(ʾumm, mother).

Noun[edit]

mother ‎(plural mothers)

  1. Something that is the greatest or most significant of its kind.
    "The great duel, the mother of all battles has begun." — Saddam Hussein
Related terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Either an extension of mother ‎(that which produces something; source, origin), or from (or a calque of) a Germanic language term like Dutch moer ‎(sediment formed in various alcholic drinks and vinegar), which see.

Noun[edit]

mother

  1. A stringy, mucilaginous or film- or membrane-like substance (consisting of acetobacters) which develops in fermenting alcoholic liquids (such as wine, or cider), which turns the alcohol into acetic acid with the help of oxygen from the air.
    pieces of mother, adding mother to vinegar

Verb[edit]

mother ‎(third-person singular simple present mothers, present participle mothering, simple past and past participle mothered)

  1. (transitive) To cause to contain mother ‎(that substance which develops in fermenting alcohol and turns it into vinegar).
    mothered oil / vinegar / wine
  2. (intransitive, of an alcohol) To develop mother.
    • 1968, Evelyn Berckman, The Heir of Starvelings, page 172:
      Iron rusted, paper cracked, cream soured and vinegar mothered.
    • 2013, Richard Dauenhauer, Benchmarks: New and Selected Poems 1963-2013, page 94:
      Your lamp / was always polished, wick / trimmed, waiting; yet the bridegroom / somehow never came. Summer dust / settled in the vineyard. Grapes / were harvested; your parents / crushed and pressed them, but the wine / mothered.

Etymology 4[edit]

Shortened from motherfucker

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

mother ‎(plural mothers)

  1. (euphemistic, vulgar, slang) Motherfucker.
  2. (euphemistic, colloquial) A striking example.
    • 1964, Richard L. Newhafer, The last tallyho:
      November, 1943 If ever, Cortney Anders promised himself, I get out of this mother of a thunderstorm there is a thing I will do if it is the last act of my life.
    • 1980, Chester Anderson, Fox & hare: the story of a Friday night‎, page 5:
      Some hot night there's gonna be one mother of a riot down here. Just wait." He'd been saying the same thing since 1958, five years of crying wolf.
    • 2004 Nov, Rajnar Vajra, “The Ghost Within”, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, volume 124, page 8:
      Basically, we wind up with a program. One mother of a complex application.
    • 2006, Elizabeth Robinson, The true and outstanding adventures of the Hunt sisters:
      Josh, whose fleshy face resembles a rhino's - beady wide-set eyes blinking between a mother of a snout
Synonyms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Statistics[edit]

Most common English words before 1923: within · room · power · #265: mother · often · themselves · half

Etymology 5[edit]

Coined from moth by analogy to mouser.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

mother ‎(plural mothers)

  1. Alternative form of moth-er