Definition of maternity in US English:



  • 1Motherhood.

    • ‘In appropriating reproductive power without women, it enacts an appropriation of maternity by patriarchy.’
    • ‘The dialogues are at their most poignant in those scenes that deal with the experience of maternity.’
    • ‘As an image of serene worshipful maternity she has yet to be matched.’
    • ‘Both images collapse universality and individuality into monumentalized maternity.’
    • ‘How effortlessly she transcends the symbiotic bonds of maternity!’
    • ‘People say that maternity is never in doubt but paternity always is.’
    • ‘But it's maternity and motherhood that are the issues closest to her heart and first off her tongue.’
    • ‘Unlike Achilles, who enjoyed divine maternity, Odysseus is solely of human parentage.’
    • ‘Precious pastrycooks declared it needed to rest on an eiderdown before it went in the oven, after which baking took place in an atmosphere of maternity.’
    • ‘Turning maternity into a civic duty, Fascism put more responsibility on the shoulders of women, without granting them any new rights.’
    • ‘Her rediscovered maternity is a little overwritten at the end.’
    • ‘She discovered something that was to become the first and last assertion of her self: maternity.’
    • ‘DNA testing was done on the biological mothers to confirm maternity of the children who participated.’
    • ‘Without it, the choice is between celibacy or the constant risk of maternity.’
    • ‘If they work for a foreign company, maternity can be legitimate reason for them to be fired.’
    • ‘Other works include a history of maternity in New Zealand and a critical look at the foundation of the Plunket Society.’
    • ‘The National Birth & Motherhood Survey 2002 paints a grim picture of modern maternity.’
    • ‘Speaking from the mother's position, she shows that maternity is characterised by division.’
    • ‘Family education is required to recognize maternity as a social function.’
    • ‘It's a show that hangs the dirty nappy laundry of maternity out to dry and brings both the laughter and tears of motherhood to the stage.’
    motherhood, parenthood
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1usually as modifier The period during pregnancy and shortly after childbirth.
      ‘maternity clothes’
      • ‘In its report on access to maternity services the committee says that not all families across the country are getting access to the services that they need.’
      • ‘She said when she gave birth to five-month-old Keane, she was left with no benefits at all except maternity pay.’
      • ‘Often they exclude provision for maternity and childcare.’
      • ‘Women often experience a lack of sufficient financial support during maternity.’
      • ‘Is there anywhere in Bangkok to buy reasonably-priced maternity clothes?’
      • ‘And for you women who've been pregnant and worn maternity pants, you know how ridiculous those things look.’
      • ‘The elevator to the maternity ward took a very long time.’
      • ‘The plan covers options for life insurance, widowhood insurance and maternity benefits.’
      • ‘She still works out five days a week and the maternity clothes have been put away for good.’
      • ‘It's not easy being pregnant and finding nice maternity clothes.’
      • ‘The party would also want to help families, by giving improved maternity benefits so that a parent could stay at home.’
      • ‘Then don't forget the minimum wage, lone parent support and maternity and paternity arrangements.’
      • ‘Mothers could transfer some maternity pay and leave to fathers.’
      • ‘One of our employees recently found out she was pregnant, so everyone is anxious to see a good maternity policy in place.’
      • ‘Her friend had her suitcase, full of her maternity clothes and normal clothes as well.’
      • ‘A number of these patterns are concerned with maternity and child health.’
      • ‘Expectant mothers can register at any maternity or child welfare centre.’
      • ‘Ground level contains maternity outpatient services, with paediatric outpatients above.’
      • ‘What will happen to the child that was conceived with the father out of work and the mother in need of support during maternity?’
      • ‘Speaking of being large and in charge, let us talk for a moment about the issue of maternity clothes.’


Early 17th century: from French maternité, from Latin maternus, from mater ‘mother’.