mother

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See also: Mother and moth-er

English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English moder, from Old English mōdor, from Proto-Germanic *mōdēr, from Proto-Indo-European *méh₂tēr. Superseded non-native Middle English mere (mother) borrowed from Old French mere (mother). Doublet of mater.

Some have proposed that the "dregs" sense is from Middle Dutch modder (filth), from Proto-Germanic *muþraz (sediment), but modder is not known in this meaning. On the other hand, words for "mother" have developed the secondary sense of "dregs" in several Romance and Germanic languages; compare Dutch moer, French mère de vinaigre, German Essigmutter, Italian madre, Medieval Latin māter, and Spanish madre.[1]

Alternative forms[edit]

  • mither (Scotland and Northern England)

Noun[edit]

mother (plural mothers)

  1. A (human) female who has given birth to a baby; this person in relation to her child or children.
    I am visiting my mother today.
    My sister-in-law has just become a mother.
    He had something of his mother in him.
    • 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.
  2. A human female who parents an adopted or fostered child.
  3. A human female who donates a fertilized egg or donates a body cell which has resulted in a clone.
  4. A pregnant female, possibly as a shortened form of mother-to-be.
    Nutrients and oxygen obtained by the mother are conveyed to the fetus.
    • 1991, Susan Faludi, The Undeclared War Against American Women:
      The antiabortion iconography in the last decade featured the fetus but never the mother.
  5. A female parent of an animal.
    The lioness was a mother of four cubs.
  6. (figuratively) A female ancestor.
  7. (figuratively) A source or origin.
    The Mediterranean was mother to many cultures and languages.
  8. Something that is the greatest or most significant of its kind. (See mother of all.)
    • 1991, January 17, Saddam Hussein, Broadcast on Baghdad state radio.
      The great duel, the mother of all battles has begun.
  9. (dated, when followed by a surname) A title of respect for one's mother-in-law.
    Mother Smith, meet my cousin, Doug Jones.
  10. (dated) A term of address for one's wife.
  11. (figuratively) Any elderly woman, especially within a particular community.
  12. (figuratively) Any person or entity which performs mothering.
    • Judges 5:7, KJV.
      The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
    • Galatians 4:26, KJV.
      Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
  13. Dregs, lees; a stringy, mucilaginous or film- or membrane-like substance (consisting of acetobacters) which develops in fermenting alcoholic liquids (such as wine, or cider), and turns the alcohol into acetic acid with the help of oxygen from the air.
    pieces of mother, adding mother to vinegar
  14. (rail transport) A locomotive which provides electrical power for a slug.
  15. The principal piece of an astrolabe, into which the others are fixed.
  16. The female superior or head of a religious house; an abbess, etc.
  17. (obsolete) Hysterical passion; hysteria; the uterus.
    • c. 1603–1606 (date written), [William Shakespeare], [] His True Chronicle Historie of the Life and Death of King Lear and His Three Daughters. [] (First Quarto), London: [] Nathaniel Butter, [], published 1608, OCLC 54196469, [Act II, scene iv]:
      O how this mother ſwels vp toward my hart []
    • 1665, Robert Lovel, Pambotanologia sive Enchiridion botanicum, page 484:
      T.V. dicusseth tumors and mollifieth them, helps inflammations, rising of the mother and the epilepsie being burnt.
    • 1666, Nicholas Culpeper, The English Physitian Enlarged, page 49:
      The Root hereof taken with Zedoary and Angelică, or without them, helps the rising of the Mother.
    • 1979, Thomas R. Forbes, The changing face of death in London, in Charles Webster (editor), Health, Medicine and Mortality in the Sixteenth Century (1979), page 128:
      St Botolph's parish records ascribed three deaths to 'mother', an old name for the uterus.
  18. A disc produced from the electrotyped master, used in manufacturing phonograph records.
Synonyms[edit]
Antonyms[edit]
Hypernyms[edit]
Coordinate terms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
Etymologically related
Descendants[edit]
  • Japanese: マザー (mazā)
  • Korean: 마더 (madeo)
  • Kriol: motha
Translations[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English modren, from the noun (see above).

Verb[edit]

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

  1. (chiefly transitive) To give birth to or produce (as its female parent) a child. (Compare father.)
    • 1998, Nina Revoyr, The Necessary Hunger: A Novel, Macmillan, →ISBN, page 101:
      Q's sister, Debbie, had mothered two kids by the time she was twenty, with neither of the fathers in sight.
    • 2010, Lynette Joseph-Bani, The Biblical Journey of Slavery: From Egypt to the Americas, AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 51:
      Zilpah, Leah's maid, mothered two sons for Jacob, Gad and Asher. Leah became pregnant once more and had two more sons, Issachar, and Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah, thus Leah had seven children for Jacob.
  2. (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.
  3. (transitive) To cause to contain mother (that substance which develops in fermenting alcohol and turns it into vinegar).
    mothered oil, mothered vinegar, mothered wine
  4. (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.
Translations[edit]

References[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Clipping of motherfucker

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

mother (plural mothers)

  1. (euphemistic, mildly vulgar, slang) Motherfucker.
    • 1989 December 19, Slim Randles, “Entrepreneur Hopes Luminaria Delivery Service Catches On”, in The Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, page 2:
      Stick a votive candle in it and fire that mother up, right?
    • 2011, Beyoncé Knowles (lyrics and music), “Run the World (Girls)”, in 4[1]:
      Who run this mother
  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”, in 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]

Etymology 4[edit]

Coined from moth by analogy to mouser.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

mother (plural mothers)

  1. Alternative form of moth-er

References[edit]

  1. ^ mother, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2022.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Noun[edit]

mother

  1. (Late Middle English) Alternative form of moder