maternal

adjective
ma·​ter·​nal | \ mə-ˈtər-nᵊl How to pronounce maternal (audio) \

Definition of maternal

1 : of, relating to, belonging to, or characteristic of a mother : motherly maternal love maternal instincts
2a : related through a mother his maternal aunt
b : inherited or derived from the female parent maternal genes

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Other Words from maternal

maternally \ -​nᵊl-​ē How to pronounce maternally (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for maternal

Synonyms

mother, motherly

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Examples of maternal in a Sentence

Doctors are concerned about the effects of the drug on maternal health. her maternal instincts told her that something was wrong

Recent Examples on the Web

On the other hand, DNA from mitochondria—a cell’s energy engine—is passed from mother to child and thus only reveals genetic information from the maternal line. Allysia Finley, WSJ, "The Making of a DNA Detective," 15 Feb. 2019 According to a study from the World Health Organization published in The Lancet, breastfeeding could prevent 823,000 infant deaths and 20,000 maternal deaths every year, worldwide. Ashley Welch, CBS News, "Why breastfeeding is the "gold standard" for babies' health," 10 July 2018 My maternal great-grandma, Abuela Emilia, was born in Puerto Rico around 1913 and died in 2003. Illyanna Maisonet, SFChronicle.com, "Bacalaitos as familial memory and penance," 5 July 2018 Under the direction and choreography of Paramount Theatre’s Amber Mak, Johnny Shea will star as Peter, while Elizabeth Stenholt will play Wendy, the oldest of the Darling siblings and the maternal leader of the Lost Boys. Kt Hawbaker, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago Shakes announces casting for this summer's 'Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure'," 25 May 2018 The most obvious question concerns the maternal bond: Who can claim it more persuasively, the birth mother or the woman who has raised the child? Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Daughter of Mine’ Review: What Makes a Mother," 31 Jan. 2019 Maria Isidra Polanco, Avila’s maternal grandmother, was born in Colima, Mexico, and raised her five children in the Koreatown neighborhood in Los Angeles. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, "Sawyer’s Julio Avila re-imagines his grandmother’s beloved tres leches cake recipe — with an extra burst of ‘milk’," 29 Jan. 2019 Schwarzenegger's maternal grandmother is Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of JFK and RFK, so there could more than a few Kennedys at the wedding. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger's Wedding: Everything We Know So Far," 14 Jan. 2019 That his maternal grandparents’ messy divorce, 10 years before he was born, reverberates in his work seems, well, far-fetched. Karen Wilkin, WSJ, "‘Born to Be Posthumous’ Review: Peculiar, Cynical, Ironic & Witty," 21 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'maternal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of maternal

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for maternal

Middle English, from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French maternel, from Medieval Latin maternalis, from Latin maternus, from mater mother — more at mother

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Statistics for maternal

Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for maternal

The first known use of maternal was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for maternal

maternal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of maternal

: of or relating to a mother
: of or relating to a woman who is having a baby
: related through the mother

maternal

adjective
ma·​ter·​nal | \ mə-ˈtər-nᵊl How to pronounce maternal (audio) \

Kids Definition of maternal

1 : of or relating to a mother maternal instincts
2 : related through the mother maternal grandparents

Other Words from maternal

maternally adverb

maternal

adjective
ma·​ter·​nal | \ mə-ˈtərn-ᵊl How to pronounce maternal (audio) \

Medical Definition of maternal

1 : of, relating to, belonging to, or characteristic of a mother maternal instinct
2a : related through a mother his maternal aunt
b : inherited or derived from the female parent maternal genes

Other Words from maternal

maternally \ -​ᵊl-​ē How to pronounce maternally (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on maternal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with maternal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for maternal

Spanish Central: Translation of maternal

Nglish: Translation of maternal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of maternal for Arabic Speakers

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