Definition of mother in US English:



  • 1A woman in relation to her child or children.

    ‘she returned to Bristol to nurse her aging mother’
    ‘a mother of three’
    • ‘Mr Marchant and his wife wanted to return to the UK to be near to their mothers, both of whom are elderly, and live in the south.’
    • ‘His father and mother were very affectionate and I was fond of his family.’
    • ‘He lives at home with his parents helping his mother care for his father, who has a debilitating illness.’
    • ‘He said his impression was that she was a good mother and took good care of her children.’
    • ‘When Mother sold a story they had three-pennyworth of halfpenny buns for tea.’
    • ‘His parents divorced and he had to take care of his mother and brother.’
    • ‘However, after my mother and father divorced, my mother, my two brothers and I moved to Scotsburn.’
    • ‘Now the youngest victim's mother has advised other parents to warn their children to take extra care.’
    • ‘To prove this she interviewed mothers who had given birth prematurely and discovered that a high proportion of them had suffered stress events in pregnancy.’
    • ‘All those mothers now giving birth at the age of 45 or more should hope that their daughters don't follow their example.’
    • ‘In 1962, there were more than 2,000 births to mothers who had 10 or more previous children.’
    • ‘Mr McGeehan said a minority of expectant mothers wanted to give birth at home.’
    • ‘The average age of mothers who gave birth in 2000 was 30.’
    • ‘It was my mother, my loving, caring mother who missed me more than words could say.’
    • ‘Just ten months ago his mother, with whom he had lived all of his life, passed away.’
    • ‘Morana smiled slightly, at the thought of her mother and father watching out for her.’
    • ‘My mother has my birth certificate, but she does not want anything to do with me any more.’
    • ‘You know, the funny thing about sexism is that most young men, you included, have mothers and sisters whom they love and respect.’
    • ‘A mother who gave birth outside a locked maternity unit has criticised health bosses for not keeping it open around the clock.’
    • ‘In eight of these cities, more than 60% of births were to unwed mothers.’
    • ‘Six and a half years ago, my mother collapsed and was taken into hospital.’
    • ‘We're going to be late to meet my parents and my mother hates to be kept waiting.’
    • ‘My mother is caring and sweet to my siblings, but I haven't felt loved by her for years.’
    • ‘It is a fitting tribute from a daughter to her mother on her 75th birthday.’
    female parent, materfamilias, matriarch
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A female animal in relation to its offspring.
      as modifier ‘a mother penguin’
      • ‘In Gombe Stream National Park, a chimpanzee sanctuary in western Tanzania, one of the primate mothers, Gremlin, was trying to wean her twins.’
      • ‘I am frequently asked whether handling a baby bird will keep the mother from feeding it.’
      • ‘The mother flew off as usual but seemed no more agitated than she had been when guarding the eggs.’
      • ‘Cub aggression, however, is not necessarily higher among offspring of high-ranking mothers, the study says.’
      • ‘One of the non-orphan lambs is having a bottle now and then as its mother isn't caring for it.’
      • ‘The high female infection rate also spells trouble for the next generation of bears since infected mothers transmit the mites to their offspring.’
      • ‘Mammals are the only major group of vertebrates in which mothers are more involved.’
      • ‘Female baboons tend to form the tightest bonds with their mothers, aunts, and sisters.’
      • ‘Offspring and their mothers are inseparable during the first few years of the youngster's life.’
      • ‘They are taught by their mothers or other bustards how to recognize and avoid foxes and other dangers.’
      • ‘Cubs live with their mothers for about a year and a half, when females often conceive again.’
      • ‘Till recently, they were feeding on the regurgitated food provided by the mother.’
      • ‘Orangutan offspring stay with their mothers until they're seven or eight years old, but orangutans are on the lower end of the sociability scale among great apes.’
      • ‘Shallow water may allow mothers and calves to detect and avoid predatory sharks.’
      • ‘Heifers are females before they become mothers; after that, they're called cows.’
      • ‘Pups learn from their mothers how to forage and what prey items to look for as well as swimming and grooming behaviors.’
      • ‘In contrast, zoo elephants are typically found in groups of two, and two-thirds of female calves are taken from their mothers at an early age.’
      • ‘Females stay with their mothers, forming a group of related animals that co-operate to bring up and feed the latest litters of cubs.’
      • ‘The researchers positively identified the mothers of 371 individual bats and the fathers of 232.’
      • ‘Competition for the few males is now so fierce that dominant females actively push young, would-be mothers out of the picture.’
    2. 1.2archaic (especially as a form of address) an elderly woman.
      • ‘‘Mother,’ said the conductor, ‘do you want to go to Denver?’’
    3. 1.3as modifier Denoting an institution or organization from which more recently founded institutions of the same type derive.
      ‘the mother church’
      • ‘In general, it is given the task of filling market niches in which the mother company does not compete.’
      • ‘He argues that there is only one mother church, which is the Catholic church, so it is terminologically incorrect to call say the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches sister churches as it places them on a level of equality.’
    4. 1.4 (especially as a title or form of address) the head of a female religious community.
      • ‘Mother Aquinas faced the decision with great courage and tact.’
      • ‘Sr. Elizabeth Ann Eckert is the new reverend mother of the Anglican Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, succeeding Sr. Constance Joanna Gefvert.’
  • 2North American vulgar slang

    short for motherfucker


[with object]
  • 1often as noun motheringBring up (a child) with care and affection.

    ‘the art of mothering’
    • ‘Topics include mothering, fathering, marriages, family group processes, sibling relations, and families.’
    • ‘I don't really have much of a social life - no time after a full day at work and then mothering for the rest of the time.’
    • ‘The jobs available to low-skilled women, with few benefits, irregular hours, and little time off, are the least compatible with mothering.’
    • ‘Yet today, at age 29, she spends her days at her home near Salt Lake City, Utah, mothering her three children, all under age 5.’
    • ‘It's as if Victoria wants to remembered for something else except for mothering David's kids, and being trampled on at the same time.’
    • ‘In 1987 he married Fran who, as well as mothering his two children, Billy and Katie, is the co-writer and co-producer of all his films.’
    • ‘She closely guards the privacy of her daughters, now five and three, only saying that she enjoys mothering and tries hard to spend time with them every day, although her schedule is always tight.’
    • ‘So I feel I can be a good role model as a mother because I love being a mom and I have great advice for everybody when it comes to mothering.’
    • ‘Ben acted this way, I now remember, when I took a vacation from mothering.’
    • ‘Parenting, mothering in particular, requires a subtle intuitiveness for which there can never be adequate preparation in any job.’
    • ‘And I don't think you can do everything as well as it needs to be done when it comes to mothering when you have a schedule like mine.’
    • ‘I find it distressing to see in a lot of the news coverage of this issue, how it has forced women to belittle other women's mothering.’
    • ‘People in Angola get old before their time, be they press-ganged boy soldiers or little girls thrust abruptly into mothering baby sisters or daughters.’
    • ‘It is an acknowledgement of all the black women who have mothered other people's children.’
    • ‘In this line of thinking, what children in childcare require is substitute mothering.’
    • ‘In an exchange that emphasizes the way these two women interpret that love, Williams shows us how power relations affect mothering.’
    • ‘One child, abandoned years earlier at hospital by his mother, has attached himself to Nancy, who mothers the orphan, discipline and all.’
    • ‘But asked about the emphasis on mothering, activists say it hasn't played a significant role in contemporary feminist antiwar organizing.’
    • ‘With a husband fighting in the war, likely to die at any moment, and a farm of wounded, vulgar soldiers, mothering a child would not be an easy task.’
    • ‘Mothers feel passionately about their children and about mothering, which they see as unique and extraordinarily important work.’
    bring up, care for, provide for, take care of, attend to, look after, rear, support, raise, foster, parent, tend
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Look after (someone) kindly and protectively, sometimes excessively so.
      ‘she felt mothered by her older sister’
      • ‘She was, of course, my sister, and I loved her, but I had never mothered her the way I had doted on Henry or - most of all - Maggie.’
      • ‘Margaret mothers him by sending others off to do his work and fetch him water.’
      • ‘Anya nodded, but felt an annoyance at being mothered.’
      • ‘Working with Jane, who plays my mom, was great, though she did tend to mother me a lot.’
      • ‘The checkouts were populated by a mixture of young girls and housewives, and for the most part they mothered me rotten.’
      • ‘Fluent in five languages, highly informed and a stickler for precise dates and details, she is equally at ease mothering me with biscuits, stuffing plant cuttings into my hands or scolding me for my dismal grasp of the Czech language.’
      • ‘While she was never married and had no children of her own, she mothered a great many.’
      • ‘She was still mad about that night but more than that, she didn't feel like being mothered by her sister.’
      • ‘The two girls worried constantly about each other, and Lauren mothered her all the time, checking that she was eating well, and was warm enough, and sleeping easily.’
      • ‘Mom, if you don't stop mothering him, he's going to come around every day.’
      • ‘Women have a strong maternal instinct and have a hard time grasping that most men loathe being mothered - can she back off when you tell her to?’
      • ‘What's more, the judge seems surely, perhaps instinctively, to be protecting him - mothering him.’
      • ‘She dominated the compartment and decided to wield her power over me as well, mocking my stuttering Hindi and mothering me by forcing me to eat.’
      • ‘Her gay friends allow her to mother them without the drag of true responsibility.’
      • ‘He loved to be mothered by women and women loved to mother him.’
      • ‘He's totally assured in the arena, but in moments of repose you want to mother him.’
      • ‘Odile is both drawn to and repelled by the boy; she wants him to leave but needs him to stay; she mothers him and flirts with him by turns.’
      • ‘It's a good thing I trust those instincts of yours or I'd think you were mothering me.’
      • ‘She scolded him and generally mothered him as he insisted that he was completely fine, all the while biting back groans of pain.’
      • ‘He was the youngest of four brothers and sister so he did get spoiled and I mothered him.’
      look after, care for, take care of, nurture, nurse, protect, cherish, tend, raise, rear
      View synonyms
  • 2dated Give birth to.

    ‘she's mothered two foals that have gone on to be impressive dressage competitors’
    • ‘Emma O'Leary mothered four sons before her husband ran off with another woman, leaving her to raise the boys on her own.’
    give birth to, have, deliver, bear, produce, bring forth
    View synonyms


  • the mother of all ——

    • informal An extreme example or very large specimen of a specified thing.

      ‘I got stuck in the mother of all traffic jams’
      • ‘The mother of all Bulgarian potholes was a result of a five-year plan ending in 1987.’
      • ‘The mother of all howlers was the prediction of future scarcity of resources in the 1970s.’
      • ‘Fast forward to Saturday morning and I was having a lie down out in the sun with the mother of all hangovers.’
      • ‘I then had a little something to eat and watched a little telly, although I still had the mother of all headaches.’
      • ‘But we suspect the anti-Europeans will very shortly wake up with the mother of all hangovers.’
      • ‘Perhaps, the cricket coaches and psychologists should speak to them about how to motivate the team to win the mother of all cricketing contests.’
      • ‘I do not want to live through the Third World War which has the potential to be the Mother of all Wars.’
      • ‘It looks like it's going to be the mother of all bottlenecks, and a super overpass will be needed.’
      • ‘This bus station is being seen as the mother of all solutions to the grievances of bus commuters in Bangalore.’
      • ‘I'm feeling very sorry for myself today as I have the mother of all colds.’
      • ‘I look around to see, watching me, two glass bead eyes stitched onto the mother of all big handbags.’
      • ‘Next, the restaurant lays out the mother of all meals, a Royal Thai degustation feast.’
      • ‘Irvine persuaded the city fathers to throw the mother of all parties.’
      • ‘It sounds like the mother of all hangovers to me, but I may be being unfair - she suffers with a twisted spine.’
      • ‘They are the mother of all prawns and fetch handsome prices for those who net them from the wild.’
      • ‘I was in the bathroom looking at myself in the mirror, psyching myself up for the mother of all Friday night parties.’
      • ‘It's the mother of all tribal sectarian conflicts and it's hard to articulate it without taking sides.’


Old English mōdor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch moeder and German Mutter, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin mater and Greek mētēr.