al·​lo·​moth·​er | \ ˈa-lə-ˌmə-t͟hər How to pronounce allomother (audio) \
plural allomothers

Definition of allomother

: an individual other than the biological mother of an offspring that performs the functions of a mother (as by caring for an infant temporarily) The allomother suckled the second infant for two and one-half minutes before it was retrieved by its own mother.— Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, The Langurs of Abu: Female and Male Strategies of Reproduction, 1980 … by five months of age, babies spend more time with allomothers than with their own mother …— Claudia R. Valeggia, in Substitute Parents: Biological and Social Perspectives on Alloparenting, 2009

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Other Words from allomother

allomother verb, transitive + intransitive allomothers; allomothered; allomothering
… older sisters are readily available to allomother their younger siblings … — Bernard Chapais, in Cooperation in Primates and Humans: Mechanisms and Evolution, 2006 Among elephants, allomothering practice did not appear to compensate for direct experience with an offspring. — Phyllis C. Lee, Animal Behaviour, February 1987

First Known Use of allomother

1980, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for allomother

allo- + mother entry 1

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The first known use of allomother was in 1980

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Cite this Entry

“Allomother.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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