maternal

adjective ma·ter·nal \ mə-ˈtər-nᵊl \

Definition of maternal

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

maternally

play \-nᵊl-ē\ adverb

Examples of maternal in a Sentence

  1. Doctors are concerned about the effects of the drug on maternal health.

  2. her maternal instincts told her that something was wrong

Recent Examples of maternal from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of maternal

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

Other Genetics Terms


MATERNAL Defined for English Language Learners

maternal

adjective

Definition of maternal for English Language Learners

  • : of or relating to a mother

  • : of or relating to a woman who is having a baby

  • : related through the mother


MATERNAL Defined for Kids

maternal

adjective ma·ter·nal \ mə-ˈtər-nᵊl \

Definition of maternal for Students

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

maternally

adverb

Word Root of maternal

The Latin word mater, meaning “mother,” gives us the root mater or matr. Anyone or anything maternal, such as a grandparent, is related through the mother's side of the family. Maternity is the state of being a mother. A matriarch is a woman who is the mother and head of a family. A matron is a married woman who may be a mother.


Medical Dictionary

maternal

adjective ma·ter·nal \ mə-ˈtərn-ᵊl \

medical Definition of maternal

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

maternally

play \-ᵊl-ē\ adverb


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up maternal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to speak evil of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Forms of Government Quiz

  • knupfer-painting-solon-before-croesus
  • A gerontocracy is rule by:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!