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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from maternal

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

Synonyms for maternal

Synonyms

mother, motherly

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

At age 7, the vivacious, thrill-seeking girl flew on her own to visit her maternal grandparents in Eastern Europe. Aubrey Whelan, https://www.inquirer.com, "Two friends shared heroin in a KFC bathroom. One died, one went to prison. Their families are picking up the pieces.," 6 June 2019 The 46-year-old Hoiberg was born in Lincoln and maternal grandfather Jerry Bush was the Cornhuskers coach from 1954 to 1963. Eric Olson, The Seattle Times, "Ex-Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg hired at struggling Nebraska," 30 Mar. 2019 Her maternal grandfather was Whitney M. Young Jr., the president of the National Urban League throughout the turbulent 1960s. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, "In Her First Solo Museum Snow, Jordan Casteel’s Humanizing Portraits Get Even Closer," 15 Jan. 2019 In one gorgeous scene, Carol serves Therese a glass of warm milk, a gesture both maternal and erotic. Megan Abbott, WSJ, "Five Best: Megan Abbott on Novels About Female Friendship," 9 Aug. 2018 Get ready to be charmed, as the rest of us have been, by your maternal grandmother, Doria Ragland, but be careful around anyone whose last name is Markle. Elizabeth Holmes, Town & Country, "An Open Letter to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's New Royal Baby," 7 May 2019 Throughout the month of May, which is Maternal Mental Health month, Teigen is using her platform to help reduce the stigma surrounding maternal mental health issues. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Chrissy Teigen Wishes More Women Could Open Up About Postpartum Depression," 2 May 2019 Kate, who is currently in her third trimester, visited the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) on Tuesday to learn more about the college’s global health programs aimed to reduce maternal and newborn mortality worldwide. Erin Hill, PEOPLE.com, "Pregnant Kate Middleton Has Emotional Reunion with Midwife Who Helped Deliver Princess Charlotte," 27 Feb. 2018 My maternal grandmother was a decorator in San Francisco. Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Decor, "Sunrise Ruffalo, Wife of Actor Mark Ruffalo, Launches a Chic Homewares Pop-Up in Los Angeles," 18 Apr. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about maternal

Statistics for maternal

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for maternal

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on maternal

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

WORD OF THE DAY

showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!