mother

1 of 4

noun (1)

moth·​er ˈmə-t͟hər How to pronounce mother (audio)
1
a
: a female parent
She's the mother of three small children.
b(1)
: a woman in authority
specifically : the superior of a religious community of women
Mother Teresa
(2)
: an old or elderly woman
Mother Hubbard
2
: source, origin
necessity is the mother of invention
3
: maternal tenderness or affection
all my mother came into mine eyes and gave me up to tearsWilliam Shakespeare
4
[short for motherfucker] sometimes vulgar : motherfucker
5
: something that is an extreme or ultimate example of its kind especially in terms of scale
the mother of all construction projects
the mother of all ocean liners
motherhood noun
motherless adjective
motherlessness noun

mother

2 of 4

adjective

1
a
: of, relating to, or being a mother
b
: bearing the relation of a mother
2
: derived from or as if from one's mother
3
: acting as or providing parental stock
used without reference to sex

mother

3 of 4

verb

mothered; mothering ˈmə-t͟hə-riŋ How to pronounce mother (audio)
ˈmət͟h-riŋ

transitive verb

1
a
: to give birth to
b
: to give rise to : produce
2
: to care for or protect like a mother

mother

4 of 4

noun (2)

plural mothers
1
: a slimy or gelatinous mass or film that contains bacteria, yeasts, or both, that forms in liquids during the process of fermentation, and that is often used as a starter (see starter entry 1 sense 3b) in the production of certain food and beverage products:
a
: mother of vinegar
After about 2 months, when the alcohol has acidified, or when a taste of the vinegar makes your mouth pucker, it's ready to strain and bottle. (You can save the mother to begin a new batch.)Tejal Rao
b
: SCOBY
A kombucha "mother" floats atop a vat of the fermented tea looking like a brown, gelatinous disk of bacteria and yeast, which it is.Melissa Nann Burke
The brand's approach includes straining out the mother, leaving the kombucha with more of the mouthfeel of traditional teas and other mainstream beverages.Dale Buss
2
: a dough of fermented flour and water used as a starter especially in baking : mother dough
Each day pieces are taken and used to create new loaves, and the mother is fed to survive.Sophie Witts

Examples of mother in a Sentence

Adjective she often offered to babysit for friends, hoping to satisfy her mother urges until she had children of her own Verb She mothered two sons but no daughters. I hope to mother at least one child.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The 69-year-old hails from an ethnically mixed family – his father is Azeri and his mother is Kurdish. Nadeen Ebrahim, CNN, 6 July 2024 And if your mother doesn't feel comfortable setting her own boundary, offer to be her excuse. R. Eric Thomas, Washington Post, 6 July 2024 The mother plant gradually declines as the new plants form. Tom MacCubbin, Orlando Sentinel, 6 July 2024 Authorities on Saturday confirmed to News 12 New Jersey that the mother later died at the hospital, but did not provide an update on her kids’ conditions. Jessica Schladebeck, New York Daily News, 6 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for mother 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mother.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1), Adjective, and Verb

Middle English moder, from Old English mōdor; akin to Old High German muoter mother, Latin mater, Greek mētēr, Sanskrit mātṛ

Noun (2)

archaic mother dregs, lees; akin to Middle Dutch moeder dregs

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of mother was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near mother

Cite this Entry

“Mother.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mother. Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

mother

1 of 3 noun
moth·​er ˈmət͟h-ər How to pronounce mother (audio)
1
a
: a female parent
b
: a woman in authority
especially : a nun in charge of a convent
2
: an elderly woman
3
: cause entry 1 sense 1, origin
necessity is the mother of invention
motherhood noun
motherless adjective

mother

2 of 3 adjective
1
a
: of or relating to a mother
mother love
b
: being in the relation of a mother to others
a mother country
2
: gotten from or as if from one's mother

mother

3 of 3 verb
mothered; mothering ˈmət͟h-(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce mother (audio)
: to be or act as mother to

Medical Definition

mother

noun
moth·​er ˈmət͟h-ər How to pronounce mother (audio)
: a female parent

More from Merriam-Webster on mother

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