stepmother

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See also: step-mother

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English stepmoder, from Old English stēopmōdor, from Proto-Germanic *steupamōdēr (stepmother), corresponding to step- +‎ mother.

Cognate with Saterland Frisian Stäifmuur (stepmother), Dutch stiefmoeder (stepmother), German Low German Steevmoder (stepmother), German Stiefmutter (stepmother), Danish stedmor (stepmother), Swedish styvmor (stepmother), Icelandic stjúpmóðir (stepmother). Compare also West Frisian styfmem (stepmother).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈstɛpmʌðə/
  • Hyphenation: step‧moth‧er

Noun[edit]

stepmother (plural stepmothers)

  1. The wife of one's biological father, other than one's biological mother.
  2. (rare) A viola, especially Viola tricolor, heartsease.
    • 1974, Thomas Teal, translating Tove Jansson, The Summer Book, Sort Of Books 2003, p. 115:
      The second came up about ten days later in the lee of the channel marker, and it was called stepmother, or love-in-idelness.

Usage notes[edit]

In Western heterosexual couples, this is typically after the divorce or death of the birth mother; in polygamous marriages and lesbian couples, the term may be used for co-mother or nonbirth mother

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