mother, n.1 (and int.)
), OE meder
(dative, occas. genitive), OE moddor
), OE modru
(plural), OE moeder
), OE–ME modor
, OE–ME modra
(plural), OE–ME modur
, OE–15 modyr
, OE–16 moder
, eME moderr
), ME mader
(transmission error), ME modder
, ME modere
, ME modern
(transmission error), ME modier
, ME modiere
, ME modir
, ME modire
, ME modren
, plural), ME modure
, ME modyre
, ME mooder
, ME moodir
, ME moodur
, ME–15 modre
, lME moþer
, lME–15 mothir
, lME–15 (18 arch.
, lME– mother
, 15 moeder
, 15–16 moother
, 19– muzzer
); Eng. regional
), 18– mither
), 18– mudder
), 18– muther
), 18– muthor
), 19– muddher
), 20– mawthur
); U.S. regional
(chiefly in African-American usage) 19– motha
, 19– mudder
, 19– mudduh
, 19– mutha
, 19– muther
, 19– mada
, 19– madda
, 19– mudder
, pre-17 modder
, pre-17 modere
, pre-17 modir
, pre-17 modire
, pre-17 modre
, pre-17 modyre
, pre-17 moider
, pre-17 mothere
, pre-17 mothir
, pre-17 mothyre
, pre-17 moþir
, pre-17 mouther
, pre-17 muder
, pre-17 mudir
, pre-17 mudre
, pre-17 mudyr
, pre-17 muther
, pre-17 muthir
, pre-17 mvddir
, pre-17 mvder
, pre-17 17– mither
, pre-17 17– mother
, pre-17 (19– north.
, pre-17 (19– rare
, 18 medder
), 18 mideer
), 18 moeder
), 18– midder
); also Irish English
), 18– moodher
), 18– moother
), 19– mither
), 19– morr
). (Show Less)
Cognate with Old Frisian mōder
(West Frisian moer
), Middle Dutch moeder
), Old Saxon mōdar
(Middle Low German mōder
), Old High German muoter
(Middle High German muoter
, German Mutter
), Old Icelandic móðir
, Old Swedish moþir
), Danish moder
, and further with Sanskrit mātṛ
, Avestan mātar-
, ancient Greek (Doric) ματέρ-
, (Attic and Ionic) μητέρ-
, classical Latin māter
( > Old French madre
, Old French, Middle French mere
, French mère
, Old Occitan, Occitan maire
, Catalan mare
, Italian madre
, Spanish madre
, Portuguese mãe
), Gaulish mātīr
, Early Irish māthir
, Tocharian A mācar
, Tocharian B mācer
, Old Church Slavonic mati
), Russian mat′
, Latvian māte
, Albanian motër
(in sense ‘sister’), probably originally a derivative (with suffixation) of a nursery word of the ma
type (see ).
The change of postvocalic
(compare , , , etc.) is first evidenced by spellings from the beginning of the 15th cent. The shortening of Middle English close ō
(giving modern English
) is regular in the case of words in -ther
(compare , , ); E. J. Dobson Eng. Pronunc. 1500–1700
(ed. 2, 1968) II. §18 notes that most of the late 16th- and early 17th-cent. orthoepists who mention the word record pronunciations in ŭ
. The form moother
(with spelling reflecting the original long vowel although it may well have been shortened in pronunciation) persists in standard English into the 17th cent.
In Old English the genitive singular normally coincided in form with the nominative mōdor
(in some Anglian and late West Saxon texts forms showing extension of the mutated vowel from the dative singular are also attested). The unmarked genitive continues to occur commonly in Middle English. Genitive compounds before the 15th cent. are always found with the first element unmarked. Some early genitive compounds with the unmarked form survive to the present day, although no longer clearly apprehended as such (e.g. , ). The analogical genitive in -s
is attested early (compare Old English (Northumbrian) genitive forms mōderes
from the second half of the 10th cent. in the Lindisfarne Gospels), and had become standard (outside genitive compounds) by the end of the Middle English period.
after post-classical Latin mater Dei
(5th cent., in turn after Hellenistic Greek Θεοτόκος
). In sense
after post-classical Latin matrix
womb (see ); compare also post-classical Latin mater
in the same sense (see ). In sense
after post-classical Latin dura mater
, pia mater
(11th cent.; from 12th cent. in British sources: see , ).
Senses relating to human beings and animals.
b. The female parent of an animal. Freq. applied to domesticated or farm animals.Cf. .
(Corpus Cambr. 173)
Gif mon cu oððe stodmyran forstele & folan oððe cealf ofadrife, forgelde mid scill[ingum] & þa moder be hiora weorðe.
OE Ælfric Old Test. Summary: Maccabees
in W. W. Skeat
Ylp is ormæte nyten... Feower and twentig monða gæð seo modor mid folan.
Þe lamb fleþ oþre shep & follȝheþþ aȝȝ hiss moderr.
Exod. xxiii. 19
Þou schalt not seeþe akydd in þe mylk of his moder. [So later versions.]
J. Lelamour tr. Macer f. 11v,
The swallowis byrd may nought se, till þe moder brynge of that erbe and tuche hir eyne þere wiþ.
Let þe femalis calvis haue þe modris mylke iij wekis.
▸?a1500 R. Henryson tr. Æsop Fables: Trial of Fox l. 1068 in
Swa come the ȝow, the mother off the lam.
c1540 J. Bellenden tr. H. Boece
He maid lawis that grew-quhelpis suld nocht line thair moderis.
1582 S. Batman 713
The male asse yt is the father of the Mule, is passing cold of complection, and in the Mare that is mother, yt is hot, because of the heat of the horses kind.
1632 W. Lithgow ix. 380
Young Chickens, which are not hatched by their mothers, but in the Fernace.
1692 R. L'Estrange ccxxi. 193
Pray Mother (says the Young Crab) do but set the Example your self, and I'll follow ye.
1708 E. Arwaker i. lvii. 79
The Lamb reply'd, My Mother's tender Care Has, for my greater Safety, plac'd me here.
1798 Wordsworth Last of Flock in Wordsworth & S. T. Coleridge 136
A little lamb, and then its mother.
1805 B. F. 117
The bleating lamb which had lost its mother.
1868 Tennyson 100
And lambs are glad Nosing the mother's udder.
1922 J. Joyce ii. xiv. [Oxen of the Sun] 399
Staggering bob in the vile parlance of our lower class licensed victuallers signifies the cookable and eatable flesh of a calf newly dropped from its mother.
1966 W. Styron iii. 340
While yanking a borning calf from its mother's womb Moore suffered a bizarre and fatal accident.
1992 R. Brown i. vi. 69
Carolyn had been rapt with admiration. Watching the new mother moving her kittens, jerking them up by their damp scruffs.
c. A female ancestor, esp. with reference to Eve, freq. as our first mother (Genesis 3:20).
God..geworhte of ðam ribbe ænne wifman... Heo is ealra lybbendra modor.
Proauia, þridde moder.
Gen. iii. 20
And adam clepide þe name of his wyf Eue, þoru þat sche was moder of all þingez lyuing.
Eue..þat moder of mani es.
a1475 in A. Clark
i. 33 (MED),
Iohane..yaf and graunted..for the helþe of the soules of his fadirs and modirs and of all his aunceturs..ij hydys of lond.
a1500 in T. Wright & R. P. Wülcker
I. 689 (MED),
Hec proava, the forne modyre.
Andrew of Wyntoun
That woman..that Eve we call, for scho wes modyr of ws all.
1568 in W. T. Ritchie f. 273,
Our first muder.
1611 Gen. xvii. 16
Yea I wil blesse her, and she shalbe a mother of nations.
1621 T. W. tr. S. Goulart 154
When hee [sc. the infernall serpent] first bit and stung our first mother Eue, leauing fast sticking in vs the sting of sinne.
1667 Milton xi. 159
Whence Haile to thee, Eve rightly call'd, Mother of all Mankind.
1727 D. Defoe
i. iii. 86
The first attack the Devil made upon our Mother Eve we have had fully described.
1791 M. De Fleury 218
The first woman, the mother of all living;..Eve..the beloved spouse of Adam.
1816 Scott I. xv. 322
Thus ejaculated the two worthy representatives of mother Eve.
1849 H. D. Thoreau 342
Eve the mother of mankind.
1903 T. W. H. Crosland 39
Eve, our common mother, By pretty, female tricks, Helped to bring us, her children, Into our present fix.
1992 Apr. 26/2
With a third set of data on changes in a section of the mitochondrial DNA called the control region, we arrived at a more ancient date for the common mother.
d. Used as a respectful (or mock-respectful) form of address to an elderly woman, esp. to one of little means or education. Also used (instead of Mrs) before the surname (or occas. the forename) of such a person. Now chiefly arch. and regional.
Leofe moder ich æm mon.
c1395 Chaucer 1005
My leeue moder..I nam but deed but if that I kan sayn What thyng it is that wommen moost desire.
▸a1438 i. 101 (MED),
Þe good preyste cam to hir, seying, ‘Modyr, wyl ȝe gon wyth ȝowr felaschep er not on þis good day?’
1476 J. Paston in
Owther Symme or Mother Broun maye delyuer it me to-morow.
1496–7 in H. Littlehales
Item, a Towell of the gyfte of Mother Ienet.
1534 J. Heywood sig. Ci,
Mother quoth I how doth my dere darlyng.
1588 in W. H. Stevenson
At one wyddoez house named Mother Jane.
While mother trot and her fellowes were descanting on others honesty.
1645 Exam. Wizards & Witches in C. L. Ewen
Mary gunnell sayth that about 8 years since Mother Palmer came to the howse of Robt. Wayts wch home she then liued and then desired to giue her a pot of beare.
1847 C. Brontë II. iv. 91
‘Well, and you want your fortune told?’, she said... ‘I don't care about it, mother; you may please yourself.’
1948 A. Paton i. xvii. 118
She calls Mrs. Lithebe mother, and that pleases the good woman.
1952 A. Christie vii. 45
‘Don't you take on so, mother,’ that's what the sergeant said to me.
1978 L. Dee tr. Hsia Chih-Yen iii. 49
Turning now to Mother Ch'i, ‘Mother Ch'i, I must go now.’
e. A mother-in-law. Now usually (chiefly U.S.) used as a title.
1589 in D. Masson
1st Ser. IV. 444
His Hienes, invited be his darrest moder the Quene of Denmarkis..letters.
1859 Tennyson Enid in 42
O my new mother, be not wroth or grieved At your new son, for my petition to her.
1955 M. Carleton vii. 95
She felt very sure that if Radford lived, Mother Tyler had no suspicion of the fact.
1982 S. Paretsky x. 130
‘Well, Mother Thayer,’ Jack said... ‘Oh, please, Jack,’ his mother-in-law said.
1998 S. Morris & J. Hallwood iii. 45
The reception at the Scarisbrook Hotel (paid for by Mother Dunning) was as spectacular as wartime restrictions allowed.
f. Freq. with the. Womanly qualities (as taken to be inherited from the mother); maternal qualities or instincts, esp. maternal affection.
1600 Shakespeare iv. vi. 31
But I not so much of man in me, But all my mother came into my eyes, And gaue me vp to teares.
1725 W. Broome in Pope et al. tr. Homer III. xi. 188
Strait all the mother in her soul awakes.
1747 S. Richardson I. xviii. 121,
I thought, by the glass before me, I saw the mother in her soften'd eye cast towards me.
1807 J. Barlow iii. 101
Thrice have those lovely lips the victim prest, And all the mother torn that tender breast.
1847 M. Howitt 33
The mother in my soul was strong.
1884 Tennyson v. ii. 185
Look! how this love, this mother, runs thro' all The world God made.
g. mothers and fathers n. a form of play in which children act out the roles of mother and father.
1903 G. R. Sims xxxiii. 271/1
Sometimes..they [sc. the boys] will join the girls in a mimic domestic drama of ‘Mothers and Fathers’.
1969 I. Opie & P. Opie xii. 331
Even beyond Infant School the girls sometimes play ‘Mothers and Fathers’.
1972 J. Wilson vii. 130
Shall we play mothers and fathers with our dolls?
2. Christian Church
(esp. R.C. Church
). Freq. with capital initial. The Virgin Mary.
b. As a channel of grace, mercy, love, etc.; esp. in Mother of mercy. Freq. as a form of address.
Moder of mildce, ðe ic bidde..ðat tu me besieke forȝiuenesse of mine sennes.
Meiden of milce. moder of grace.
30 231 (MED),
Heil qweene, modir of merci.
O goode Lady and Moþer of mercy, haue pety and compassyon Of þe wrechydnes of Mankynde.
Poems from Pilgrimage of Soul
in F. J. Furnivall
III. p. xxxii,
Thu lady, qween of heven..Thu floure of vertue, modiere of delice.
?1630 R. Howard 29
Mother of mercy, b'it not sayd, that thou Didst' ere reiect, an humbled sinner's vow.
1677 S. Speed To Creator in 105
Bless'd Mary, pre-ordain'd to be Mother of Grace and Clemencie.
1908 IV. 662/2
As the person is about to expire,..the Holy Name of Jesus is to be invoked, and such ejaculations as the following whispered in his ear:..‘Mary Mother of grace, Mother of mercy, do thou protect me from the enemy.’
1986 T. Murphy ii. 74
Settle down an' be sayin' yere prayers... Hail Holy Queen. Yes? Mother of Mercy. Yes?
c. As the mother of the Church and of Christians. Freq. as a form of address.
c1250 in C. Brown
Moder, loke one me wid þine suete eþen [read eyen].
a1300 in C. Brown
Moder, ful of þewes hende..ic em in þine loue-bende.
?a1430 T. Hoccleve
i. 47 (MED),
O blessid Ihesu..And modir..Haueth me, bothe, in your proteccion!
Mooder, of whom oure merci gan to springe, Beth ye my juge and eek my soules leche.
G. Hay tr. 282
Lovit be..the blissit mother Virgine Marie.
1563 N. Winȝet
The glorius Virgine, the Mothir.
1798 S. T. Coleridge Anc. Marinere iii, in Wordsworth & S. T. Coleridge 17
Heaven's mother send us grace.
1868 H. W. Baker in App. No. 736,
Shall we not love thee, Mother dear, Whom Jesus loves so well?
1908 F. W. Bourdillon ii. 36
More sober answer made the Mother mild [sc. the Virgin Mary].
1987 G. McCaughrean iii. 24
The miracles of the holy saints and their Mother in Heaven, the Blessed Virgin.
A woman who exercises control over an institution, etc., and similar uses.
a. A female head or superior of a religious community (now usually more fully Mother Superior or, more specifically, Mother Prioress, Mother Vicaress, etc.). Formerly also (occas.): †a female founder of a religious order (obs.). Also: a senior nun in a religious community other than the superior. Cf. .As a title or form of address, Mother is typically used of a senior nun other than the Mother Superior, of whom Reverend Mother is used.
eOE tr. Bede
iv. xxiv. 340
Þa weahte heo ealle þa sweostor, & heht to cirican gangan; & in gebedum & on sealmsonge for heora modor sawle georne þingodon.
Ðeo abbodesse..sy hlæfedie & moder ȝehaten.
Religyous modir & deuoute sustren..chosen bisily to laboure at the hous of Syon.
a1500 Rule Minoresses in W. W. Seton
Make þey professioun in hondes of þe Abbesse..in þis manere. I..bihote to god & owre ladi blissid mayde marie.., in ȝoure hondes, moder, to lyue [etc.].
1526 R. Whitford tr. 110v,
The canonizacyon..of our holy moder saynt Birgit.
Landis..in few..of the priouris or prioressis moderis and conventis of sindrie frieris and nunnis places.
i. iv. 85,
I will about it strait, No longer staying, but to giue the Mother Notice of my affaire.
1671 A. Woodhead tr. i. Pref. sig. a1,
Very eminent in this kind are these Works of the Holy Mother Teresa.
To Reverend Mother Abbess of Gravelin.
1798 J. Baillie De Monfort v. iv, in 404
And you have wisely done, my rev'rend mother.
1820 Scott I. xii. 243
They call me Lady Abbess, or Mother at the least, who address me.
1883 Mrs. Craik in Jan. 306,
I could understand how the Mother was just the woman to be head of a community like this.
1907 2 Nov. 545/3
The astute yet saintly mother-superior.
1930 E. Ferber 44
Mother Bridget was in the Mission vegetable garden, superintending the cutting of the great rosy stalks of late pie plant.
1930 28 Mar. 4/4
The Mother Vicaress of the Franciscan Convent, Taunton..died last week and was buried on Saturday.
1961 13 Apr. 423/4
Much of what the Mother-Prioress reveals is deeply interesting to anybody.
1989 C. Harkness i. 46
Reverend Mother looked at us coldly.
1998 L. Purves iii. 24
A letter..from Mother Mary of the Trinity at the Bangkok Mater Mei convent.
†b. Sc. In extended use: any saintly woman or woman having religious authority. Obs. rare.
St. Mary of Egypt 307 in W. M. Metcalfe
Spirituale modyr, quhat-sa þu be, for godis sak schau þe to me!
c. In full mother of the maids (of honour) . The head of the maids of honour in a royal household. Now hist.
1577–8 New Year's Gifts in J. Nichols
To Mrs. Hyde, Mother of the Mades.
1620 F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher ii. 16
The reuerend mother sent me word, They would all be for the garden.
1632 R. Brome i. iv,
She might ha' been Mother o' the Maids.
1682 N. Luttrell Diary in
The lady Sanderson, mother of the maids of honour to her majestie, was interred in the abby.
1711 T. Hearne
Mrs. *** Mother of the Maids to K. James IIds Queen.
1823 Byron xxx. 16
At their head there stalked A dame who kept up discipline among The female ranks... Her title was ‘the Mother of the Maids’.
1897 L. 268/1 Sanderson, Sir William,
She was mother of the maids of honour to Catherine of Braganza.
d. A woman who runs a brothel, a madam (). Now chiefly as a title.
1596 T. Lodge sig. C4v,
A great Prince in the court of Protomachus..who had Macheuils prince in his bosome to giue instance, and mother Nana the Italian bawd in his pocket to shew his artificall villanies.
1699 B. E. ,
Mother, a Bawd.
1749 J. Cleland I. 45
Mother Brown had in the mean time agreed the terms with this liquorish old goat,..fifty guineas peremptory for the liberty of attempting me [etc.].
1785 F. Grose ,
Mother, or the Mother, a bawd.
a1827 W. Hickey
The third brothel was kept by Mother Cocksedge, for all the Lady Abbesses were dignified with the respectable title of Mother.
1842 R. H. Dana
In the middle of the room..sat the old harridan, the ‘mother’ of the house.
1913 G. J. Kneeland 92
It is not uncommon for the girls as well as the customers to call her ‘mother’.
1973 G. Greene i. iii. 96
It must be better than life at Mother Sanchez.
1980 E. Jong ii. v. 207,
I enter'd Mother Coxtart's House once more.
12 Apr. 52
Jackie Burroughs is a scene-stealer as filthy-mouthed desert brothel owner Mother Mucca.
e. In occasional uses specific to various institutions, etc. (see quots.).
1897 13 July 8/7
Separate cottage buildings, each under the charge of a person called a ‘mother’, had been established [as homes for girls].
1930 5 468
Theatrical rooming house—Diggings or diggs. Mother (proprietress of same)—Ma.
1953 J. G. Moore in F. G. Cassidy & R. B. Le Page
Mother = crowned shepherdess—the highest female office [in a Revival religious group].
1975 27 Feb. 14/8
Believe it or not, there is [in the CIA] a Mother, whose office..is guarded by young men in grey flannel suits.
1979 8 Sept. 17/4
Mother, senior secretary.
1983 17 Dec. 2/2
Miss Joanna Davies, mother of the NUJ chapel (chairman of the office branch).
f. colloq. A female owner of a pet, esp. of a dog.
1922 P. G. Wodehouse viii. 197
He was his muzzer's pet, he was.
1924 J. Galsworthy i. vi. 39
Ting was..trying to climb a railing whereon was..a black cat... ‘Give him to me, Ellen. Come with Mother, darling!’
1940 N. Mitford ix. 139
Many mothers of dogs had fetched their little ones home.
g. U.S. slang. An effeminate homosexual man; spec. one who acts as a mentor to a younger man. your mother: a term used by a homosexual man to refer to himself, esp. as a figure of authority.
[1941 G. Legman Lang. Homosexuality in G. W. Henry II. 1171
Mother Ga-ga, a busybody and a know-it-all; particularly applied to an old auntie, a middle-aged or elderly homosexual, who is likely to be meddlesome and officiously over-informative.]
1946 J. H. Burns 154
Your mother's awfully late tonight, but she'll try and make it up to you!
1968 L. Humphreys
(Ph.D. thesis, Washington Univ.)
Don't knock (criticize) a trick (sex partner)—he may be sombody's mother (homosexual mentor).
1972 B. Rodgers 138
‘Jass, your mother's been remade-up for the television crew.’
1993 A. Richter 63/2
Daughter, young homosexual male, especially one introduced into homosexual society by a mother.
A quality, institution, place, etc., that produces, protects, nurtures, or sustains people, ideas, etc.
a. A quality, condition, event, etc., that gives rise to or is the source of something. Also: a place regarded as engendering or nourishing something. Chiefly with of, or as a title.necessity is the mother of invention: see .
eOE King Ælfred tr. Gregory
Se yfela willa..is modur ælces yfeles.
Witodlice gemetegung is eallra mægena modor.
Hie [sc. discretion] is moder of alle ðe oðre mihtes.
c1390 Chaucer 591
Hasard is verray moder of lesynges And of deceite and cursed forswerynges.
▸a1398 J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus
Grecia..is..modir of philosophie.
▸c1449 R. Pecock
Loue to money..is moder of passing myche yuel.
1463–4 V. 507/1
Ydelnes, moder of all vyces.
Stody and loue, desir of good lose in treuthe & sothfastnesse, þat ys..Moder of alle goodis.
1573 i. i,
That I Ignorance am the mother of true deuotion.
1597 R. Hooker v. xv. 23
The mother of such magnificence (they thinke) is but only a proude ambitious desire to be spoken of farre and wide.
1611 B. Jonson iii. i. 334
For 'tis despaire, that is the mother of madnesse.
1617 F. Moryson i. 181
Experience, the mother of fooles.
1632 T. Heywood Pref. sig. A4,
The Liberall Arts, and Sciences..are at this time..more plenteously inriched by their blessed Mother and bountifull Nurse, the most illustrious Citty London.
1693 J. Locke §124
[Lying] is so ill a Quality, and the mother of so many ill ones that spawn from it.
1723 H. Rowlands ii. 308
The old Celtic..was the Mother of most of the antient Tongues of Europe.
1766 B. Franklin Let. 28 Apr. in
I congratulate you on the repeal of that mother of mischiefs, the Stamp Act.
1799 21 Dec. 4/2
The..maxim that ‘freight is the mother of wages’.
1813 Shelley vi. 82
Necessity! thou mother of the world.
1828 C. Lamb Blakesmoor in 2nd Ser. 173
The solitude of childhood is not so much the mother of thought.
1923 W. Stevens Sunday Morning in 102
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her, Alone, shall come fulfilment to our dreams And our desires.
1974 4 Feb. 13/4
His wish being mother to the thought.
1978 J. Updike
Here's to 'er, Mother Change. A tough old bitch, but we love 'er.
b. The earth regarded as the source, nurturer, or sustainer of humanity. See also .
Hal wes þu, folde, fira modor!
Of euerilc ougt, of euerilc sed, Was erðe mad moder of sped.
vii. 4744 (MED),
Therthe of every mannes kinde Is Moder.
Andrew of Wyntoun
I can be na way trowe That othir modyre have we nowe Than the erde.
1533 J. Bellenden tr. Livy
This erd that we call oure moder.
1600 R. Surflet tr. C. Estienne & J. Liébault i. iv. 13
As for the earth..it beareth all manner of corne, fruits,..and other thinges,..and heereupon olde writers haue iustly giuen vnto it the due name of mother.
Our Great Mothers Blessing, the Earths.
1667 Milton v. 338
Whatever Earth all-bearing Mother yeilds In India East or West.
1733 B. Booth tr. Horace Ode i. xxxiv, in B. Victor 53
Earth, our dull Mother, groans.
1786 J. Clowes tr. E. Swedenborg
The earth..being their common mother..brings them forth, that is, teems them from her womb into the open day.
1822 Shelley tr. P. Calderon ii. 79
O Beloved earth, dear mother.
1823 C. Lamb Old Benchers in 202
But the common mother of us all in no long time after received him gently into hers [sc. her lap].
1876 A. C. Swinburne 20
O holy and general mother of all men born, But mother most and motherliest of mine, Earth.
1974 ‘H. MacDiarmid’ i. 15,
I am the primitive man, Antaeus-like, Deriving my strength from the warm, brown, kindly earth, My mother.
c. A country, city, etc., in relation to its natives. Also: a river in relation to those who inhabit its banks. In later use freq. prefixed to the name of a country, river, etc. See also In quots. , used of the heavenly Jerusalem (cf. ).
Modor Sion man cwæð ærest, and hire mære gewearð mann on innan.
Gal. iv. 26
That Jerusalem that is aboue is free, the which is oure modir.
▸a1387 J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden
(St. John's Cambr.)
II. 39 (MED),
Walsche men beeþ i-woned to seie a prouerbe..‘Mon mam Kembry’, þat is to menynge in Englische ‘Mon moder of Wales’.
a1522 G. Douglas tr. Virgil
iii. ii. 11
Delos..the moder..Of the Nereydes.
a1563 J. Bale
O Englande, Englande, shewe now thyselfe a mother; Thy people wyll els be slayne here without nomber.
1597 Shakespeare i. iii. 270
Then Englands ground farewell, sweet soile adiew, My mother and my nurse.
We being wholly ruled and governed by the good and wholesome [laws] of our Mother, the kingdom of England.
1721 28 Aug.,
They are a New Club set up in New-England, like to that in our Mother England.
1726 Swift I. ii. vii. 123,
I have always born that laudable Partiality to my own Country,..[and] I would hide the Frailties and Deformities of my Political Mother.
1786 R. Burns 39
Scotland, my auld, respected Mither!
1851 G. Borrow xvi,
‘What horse is that?’.. ‘The best in mother England,’ said the very old man.
1901 W. E. Henley 102
Blow, you bugles of England, blow Over the camps of the fallen foe—Blow glory and pity to the victor Mother, Sad, O, sad in her sacrificial dead!
1936 H. G. Wells xv. 183
Why specialize in Erin or Mother India or Palestine, when the whole world is our common inheritance?
1957 V. Nabokov i. 10
Those stupendous Russian ladies..infuse a magic knowledge of their difficult and beautiful tongue..in an atmosphere of Mother Volga songs, red caviar, and tea.
1972 ‘P. Ruell’ xv. 153
Came as quite a shock to them when they realised we weren't doing it all for Mother Russia.
1988 M. Moorcock
d. The Christian Church; (hence) any particular Christian church. Freq. in holy mother. See also .
c1300 St. Thomas Becket
2024 in C. Horstmann
Ich lete a-mansi alle þat hadden mis-do Mine churche, þat is his owene Moder.
William of Shoreham
Þer holy cherche þy moder hys.
B. xvi. 197
Children of charite & holicherche þe moder.
1413 T. Hoccleve
Þe holy chirches Champioun..Strengthe your modir in chacyng away Therrour which sones of iniquitee Han sowe.
c1460 in A. Clark
To all soones of our hooly modur the church.
a1500 tr. A. Chartier
O modir, holy chirche, thou arte foundid in humilite.
1562 N. Winȝet
Returne..to your awin moder Godis kirk.
iii. i. 182
Or let the Church our mother breathe her curse, A mothers curse, on her reuolting sonne.
1630 H. Yaxlee To Rdr.,
The obedient sonne of my deare Mother the true Church of England.
1633 G. Herbert Lent in i,
The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church sayes, now: Give to thy Mother, what thou wouldst allow To ev'ry Corporation.
1695 J. Edwards III. xiv. 589
A Learned and Pious Son of our Mother.
a1715 in N. Amhurst
‘Our holy mother was not permitted to take counsel for herself.’ Poor old gentlewoman! What a sad thing that was!
1746 C. Macklin iv. i. 56
Our Mother, the holy, holy Infallible Church,—Heaven's Vice-gerent!
1833 No. 13. 6
The mysterious time of Christmas approaching, our Mother, with true parental anxiety, takes up..the thread of her instructions anew.
1904 F. W. O. Ward 252
To take the solemn vow For Holy Church our Mother.
1992 M. Roberts
Authority of our Holy Mother the Church vested in me. Regular attendance at Mass and the sacraments.
†e. A university, college, etc., in relation to its past or present members. Cf. Obs.
c1439 in H. Anstey
I. 184 (MED),
Oure moder, the Universite of Oxon.
c1461 in H. Anstey
II. 369 (MED),
Thes yowre..nobyll..geffts un to owre moder the Universite beth for ever to be..had in mynd.
Syr to certyfy your maistershype of the estate of our mother ye universitie.
a1613 T. Bodley Life in
For the love that I beare to my Reverend Mother the Vniversity of Oxford.
1647–8 A. Wood 15 Feb.
Who fed with the papp of Aristotle at twenty or thirtie yeares of age, and suck at the duggs of their mother the University.
1668 W. Prynne III. Ded. sig. A2,
Lincolns-Inne, (a fruitfull Mother for sundry ages, of many able, learned, reverend, renowned Privy Counsellors, State-Officers, Judges, [etc.]).
1721 N. Amhurst
I had much rather have your approbation than your censure, and enjoy the favour of my dear mother.
1753 H. Brooke 15
Hast thou been so long at school, Now to turn a factious fool; Alma mater was thy mother, Every young divine thy brother.
1844 B. W. Procter
Alma Mater [sc. the University of Cambridge]! Thou mother kind, Who trainest the youthful human mind.
f. Nature regarded as a fundamental, esp. protecting or nurturing, force. Chiefly personified in Mother Nature.
c1525 J. Rastell sig. Ai,
Nature..is mother of all thing.
1550 R. Sherry tr. Erasmus Declam. Chyldren in sig. Gviv,
To manye dumme beastes, nature the mother of all thynges, hath geuen more helpe to do theyr natural offices.
1551 R. Robinson tr. T. More sig. Mvi,
They..thankfully knouledge ye tender loue of mother nature.
1598 T. James tr. G. Du Vair 22
Shall we thinke that nature, the mother of Arts and Sciences, hath proposed vnto man..an end, which it is vnpossible for him to come vnto?
1601 R. Johnson tr. G. Botero
Whereas mother Nature hath interlaced so riotously her golden and siluer veins in the bosom and wombe of Peru.
1629 F. Hubert lxvi,
Our Mother Nature..By whom we haue our apt Organons assign'd.
1710 D. Manley I. ii. 249
Our good and gracious Mother Nature, is said to send no Poison, but she provides an Antidote.
1764 O. Goldsmith 5
Nature, a mother kind alike to all.
1850 N. Hawthorne Introd. 18
This Inspector..seemed—not young, indeed—but a kind of new contrivance of Mother Nature in the shape of man, whom age and infirmity had no business to touch.
1866 M. Arnold Thyrsis xviii, in Apr. 452
And now in happier air, Wandering with the great Mother's train divine.
1904 J. London xvii. 158
Old Mother Nature's going to get up on her hind legs and howl for all that's in her.
1958 J. Barth xi. 188
Like a lot of small towns, Wicomico is dead set against frustrating Mother Nature.
1990 May 3/2
Would Mother Nature..ever have anticipated the multitude of environmental stresses that modern urban society causes to be imposed on us?
g. A city, country, institution, etc., from which another originates as an offshoot; spec. a city or country in relation to its colonies. Also prefixed to the name of a country, etc.
1560 J. Daus tr. J. Sleidane f. cclxxxv,
The churche of Rome, mother and maistres of al others.
1764 J. Otis 27
Greece was more generous, and a better mother to her colonies than Rome.
1838 C. Thirlwall
II. xii. 106
It [sc. Sinope] became in its turn the mother of several flourishing cities.
1975 9 July 1/8
The American Revolution..betrayed..Mother England.
a. As int. Expressing surprise, dismay, etc. Cf. sense . See also .
1899 R. Whiteing xxiii. 232
O mother, don't the paint make you feel good!
1909 22 May 6/3
‘Gee, what a peach of an idea!’ ‘Oh, mother!’
b. orig. and chiefly U.S. slang (derogatory). your mother! and variants: used as a retort expressing extreme derision.J. E. Lighter Hist. Dict. Amer. Slang (1997) notes that the phrase ‘is widely perceived to suggest go fuck your mother, and for many speakers is therefore equally provoking’; see also quot. .
[1891 in J. F. Dobie 172
Talk about one thing, talk about an other; But ef you talk about me, I'm gwain to talk about your mother.]
1934 H. Roth 356
Yuh mudduh's ass!
1937 C. Odets 243
[On telephone] I'll bring him right over... You can take my word—the kid's a cock-eyed wonder..your mother too!
1953 ‘F. Paley’ 86
‘Your mother!’ Pooch murmured.
1971 K. Awoonor ii. 17
As he turned into the road, swinging left, tyres screeching, the taxi driver jammed on his brakes, eased opposite him, and said without venom or bitterness, Your mother's arse, don't you know how to drive?
1974 V. C. Strasburger 159
Carter turned around. ‘Your mother,’ he said to the guy who had just finished talking.
1995 K. Burns in A. Sexton 35
According to brother Morgan Dalphinis, author of Caribbean and African Languages, this is the ultimate pan-African insult. The Hausa say uwarka (‘your mother’), which is really short for ka ci uwarka (‘unprintable’).
1999 F. McCourt xv. 118
Weber gives him the finger and says, Your mother, and Buck has to be stopped from attacking him by the duty sergeant who tells us all get out.
1959 N. Mailer
He roared with laughter now. ‘Oh, my mother.’
1972 C. Achebe 107
‘Plane!’ screamed his boy from the kitchen. ‘My mother!’ screamed Gladys.
The uterus, and related uses.
b. suffocation (also rising, fit) of the mother : = sense . Now hist.
c1450 J. Metham Palmistry
Yt sygnyfyith that..yff yt be a woman, sche schuld dey off chyld-byrth or ellys off rysyng off the modyr.
c1450 in W. R. Dawson
For the suffocacion of the modir lat hir receyue þe smoke of turpentyne laid upon the coles þorow hir mouth.
1526 sig. Ddiii/2,
Suffocacyon of the matryce or moder, is whan a woman through euyll dysposycyon of the matryce leseth her colour, aduyce and remembraunce, and it is grete payne.
1601 P. Holland tr. Pliny II. 40
The rising or suffocation of the mother in women,..it cureth.
1615 H. Crooke 231
Many passions called Hystericæ, which we call fits of the Mother.
1626 Bacon §935
They doe use for the Accident of the Mother, to burn Feathers [etc.]: and by those Ill Smels the Rising of the Mother is put down.
1707 G. Farquhar i. 3
She cures..Fits of the Mother in Women.
1993 148 399
The suffocation of the mother can be understood as anxiety with dyspnea.
Scientific and technical applications.
a. Chiefly in Geol., Biol., Anat., etc. The source of a material substance or object; a main stem or channel from which branches arise; a structure that gives rise to similar structures; the parent stock on which something grows.
▸a1398 J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus
Þe saphier is Carbuncles mooder, ffor..þet carbuncle is ygendred in saphire veynes.
1604 E. Grimeston tr. J. de Acosta v. xviii. 378
Saying, that these shells were daughters of the sea, the mother of all waters.
1611 R. Cotgrave ,
Artere aorte, the great Arterie, mother Arterie, or mother of arteries.
1646 J. Hope Diary in
By the candle light they wer neere a color bot by the daylight the stonne somewhat whytter, nather was ther any color of mother.
1668 N. Culpeper & A. Cole tr. T. Bartholin
Man. i. iii. 306
All the Veins of the whole Body are referred unto two as their Mothers.
1676 J. Evelyn 44
Water..was by some thought to be the Mother of Earth.
1681 N. Grew iii. i. iv. 283
Another clear Crystal, growing on a Semiperspicuous Mother.
1868 J. N. Lockyer
iii. §15 85
Aqueous vapour is the great mother of clouds.
1940 F. F. Grout
Mineral charcoal or ‘mother of coal’, Colorado.
1971 36 Feb. 603/2
The daughter nucleus which recoils from the rim of the wheel as the result of alpha particle decay of its mother.
From whence springs up a young Plant, which at last is of its own accord as it were weaned and separated from its Mother.
1721 R. Bradley 41
The fruit of the Indian Fig..will strike Root and become a Plant as perfect as the mother it was taken from.
1992 June 19/2
Roots start growing from the node in a few months; when there are at least a fistful of roots, cut the top plant away from the mother and pot it up.
12. The thickest plate of an astrolabe; = . Now hist.Only in and with reference to Chaucer's Treatise on the Astrolabe.
i. §2. f. 76,
The moder of thyn astrelabie is the thikkest plate.
1987 J. Reidy in L. D. Benson 1093/2
The body, called the ‘mother’, of the instrument [sc. the astrolabe] was a metal disk, usually brass, pierced by a small, central hole, and surrounded by a thicker metal rim so as to form a circular depression or well on one side, the front, or ‘womb’ side.
13. Each of the four primary figures of a geomantic oracle.
1591 F. Sparry tr. C. de Cattan 8
These four figures be called the mothers, whereof the first is attributed to the Fire, the second to the Aire, the third to the Water, the fourth to the Earthe.
1653 R. Saunders i. 32,
I erected my Figure, drawing from my points and lines, a Mother.
1889 16 Feb. 175/1
You then have in all four geomantic figures, which are called the mothers. The top spot (or pair of spots) of each mother is called the head, the second the neck, &c.
1977 S. Skinner iv. 40
The four geomantic figures..called the four Mothers..are the basis for the whole geomantic chart.
1977 S. Skinner v. 47
Make sixteen rows of random dots... Divide..into four groups of four lines... Count each line and mark down two dots for..even and one dot for an odd number... Write the four figures, so formed..from right to left, side by side. These are the four Mothers.
†17. A cask or vat used in vinegar-making. Obs.
1830 M. Donovan I. ix. 329
Into each vat or mother are poured twenty-two gallons of good vinegar boiling.
1839 A. Ure 3
The vessels employed for carrying on the fermentation are casks, called mothers.
†18. The living tissue beneath the bark of a cork oak. Obs. rare.
1862 25 Jan. 101/1
The first act of the cultivator is to separate it [sc. the ‘male’] from the trunk, which thus leaves exposed the liber, termed ‘mother’.
20. A disc with grooves that is made from the plating of an electrotyped master matrix and is used to make a stamper for gramophone records, compact discs, etc.
1918 H. Seymour 182
The obverse impressions of the original matrix are called ‘mothers’ in the trade, in view of their office in reproducing matrices from the ‘master’.
1935 H. C. Bryson vi. 134
The mother, usually about ·03 inch thick, is then stripped from the master by inserting a blunt knife carefully between them and prising them apart.
1952 J. W. Godfrey & S. W. Amos v. 139
A second negative copy known as the ‘stamper’ or ‘working matrix’ is obtained from the mother.
1968 Feb. 4/1
John Steiner..owns the rights to what remains of the Paramount company, including numerous masters and mothers, so it is likely that the actual recording quality will be a great deal better than that on most past Paramount-derived reissues.
1980 26 Apr. 14
The mother is pronounced okay and..goes back in the tank, this time to grow negative stampers.
1988 V. Capel 79
Further electroplating of these mothers produce a series of negative sons that serve as the actual stampers.
a. to have too much of one's mother's blessing : to be unreasonably prudish or scrupulous. Obs.
1606 L. Bryskett 102
Too much, is harmeful euen in iustice it self: whereupon is growne..our English prouerbe, that too much of a mans mothers blessing is not good.
1623 J. Stradling cclxviii. 54
One may haue too much of his mothers blessing.
b. to give (a person) one's mother for a maid: an expression used to emphasize the unlikelihood of a specified action, event, etc., ever taking place. Obs.
a1640 J. Rous in 36 lf. 112
If euor Ice doe come heare againe, Ice zaid, Chil give thee my Mother vor a maid.
a1689 A. Behn
i. ii. 8
If ever you catch me at your Damn'd Clubs again, I'll give you my Mother for a Maid.
a. does your mother know you're out? and variants: a jeering or condescending question addressed to a person whose behaviour is regarded as juvenile or inappropriate.
1837 J. S. Coyne i. iv. 10
Who are you? does your mother know you're out?
1842 R. H. Barham Misadventures Margate in 2nd Ser. 156
Sir, does your mother know that you are out?
1872 O. W. Holmes Poet at Breakfast-table in
The saucy question, ‘Does your mother know you're out?’ was the very same that Horace addressed to the bore who attacked him in the Via Sacra.
1951 N. Marsh i. 23
‘Does yer mother know you're aht?’ he asked ironically... She was oppressed with renewed loneliness and fear.
1975 ‘C. Aird’ vii. 65
‘Theft during the hours of darkness,’ intoned Leeyes gloomily. ‘Does his mother know he's out?’
b. just like mother makes and variants: having the good qualities of home cooking; exactly to one's taste. Also in extended use.
1866 F. Moore 360
If I could only get a cup of tea like mother made, I believe I should get well.
1898 W. P. Ridge x. 142
Beef Pudding same like Mother makes!
1919 P. G. Wodehouse i. 18
There's a new musical comedy at the Regal. Opened last night, and seems to be just like mother makes.
1927 W. E. Collinson 52
The notice outside some eating-houses, beef-steak pie like mother makes it!
1975 D. Clark iv. 68
Just like my old mother used to make. A bit of candied peel in a bun can't be beat.
2 June 4
Let's just say it's not like what mother used to make.
c. to be mother : to serve out food or drink; spec. to be the person who pours the tea.
[1926 G. B. Shaw Glimpse of Reality in 184
Let us get to work at the supper. You shall be the mother of the family and give us our portions, Giulietta.]
1934 P. Hamilton 60
‘Shall I be mother?’, said Ella, and started to pour out the tea.
1958 ‘J. Brogan’ ii. 17
We'll go and have tea, and you be Mother.
1967 J. Porter iv. 41
MacGregor, hearing the tea cups rattling outside..opened the door again. ‘Shall I be mother, sir?’
1974 J. Mitchell xx. 243
‘Shall I be mother?’ Callan nodded, and Blythe's strong fingers popped the cork, the champagne foamed into the glasses.
1983 A. Bleasdale xvi. 27
As Chrissie is nearest the kettle he is about to be mother.
d. Chiefly Brit. some mothers do 'ave 'em and variants: an expression of exasperation, derision, etc., usually at a person's perceived clumsy, erratic, or idiotic actions or behaviour.Apparently originally a Lancashire saying popularized, as don't some mothers 'ave 'em, by James Robertson ‘Jimmy’ Clitheroe in his BBC radio programme The Clitheroe Kid, which ran from 1958 to 1972 (see E. Partridge Dict. Catch Phrases (ed. 2) 279/2). The phrase gained further currency as the title of the BBC television comedy series Some Mother's do 'ave 'Em (1973–8), in which Michael Crawford starred as the clumsy, accident-prone Frank Spencer.
1960 E. Morgan 371
Lord, some mothers do 'ave 'em, here we go again.
1975 ‘E. Ferrars’ vi. 82
‘Some mothers do have 'em’, she said drily. ‘Do you think that bright idea of yours would make Helen feel better?’
1992 G. M. Fraser 17
‘Christ, some mothers don't 'alf' ave 'em! An educated sod like you—I seen you doin' bleedin' crosswords.’ He cackled and shook his head.
27 Jan. 72
Some mothers do 'ave 'em, and Margaret Drabble's Mommie Dearest drew the short straw with a daughter some feel has used her blood for ink.
With sense ‘of or relating to a mother’.
1834 T. Carlyle Sartor Resartus in Mar. 307/2
Into the wilds of Nature; as if in her mother-bosom he would seek healing.
1906 C. M. Doughty IV. xv. 127
Uneath, their shrill swift chariots..touch the mother-bosom of the ground.
1839 E. S. Wortley iii. cccxxxi. 343
Once more on England's hallowed shores I tread; Once more come home!—unto thy Mother-heart, My Land of Birth and Love!
1918 W. M. Kirkland ix. 90
Strange paradox that the first emotion of the baby soul should be bitterness against all those contrivances of decency, those hemstitched linens and embroidered flannels, through which the mother heart eased its brooding love.
[1860 May 280/1
The wife and mother instinct would not allow her to remain long in the dark.]
1874 Sept. 392/2
The mother-instinct, dormant through all these childless years, seems roused within me at last!
1881 ‘M. Twain’ 114
Her sharp mother-instinct seemed to detect it.
1986 J. Joseph xxv. 127
The mother-instinct of this ‘redoubtable’ lady seems to have developed rather late in the day.
1647 A. Cowley My Heart Discov. in 16
Thoughts..Fair and chast, as Mother-Mind.
1953 R. Graves 20
‘Let them play,’ her mother-mind repeats.
1992 R. Kelly 133
She also was, every circumstance my sister, every jest my brother, and of this mother mind we both are fleshed.
1709 D. Manley
When the Mother-Pains came upon [her].
1947 17 May 8
When day is here, and hunger sucks the nipple-drops of blood and sweat that swell the mother pain.
1997 G. Gildner ii. 33
A father whose first-born came to assist at her sister's birth, stroking the mother-pain.
1710 D. Manley I. i. 1
Like..Abortives under the Mother-Pangs.
1819 J. H. Payne v. iii,
To strike their country in the mother-pangs Of struggling child-birth.
1879 E. J. Pfeiffer 11
The girl upon the stair..Had waked in her some mother-pang.
1878 W. Pater
His [sc. Charles Lamb's] simple mother-pity for those who suffer.
1920 T. P. Nunn xii. 146
The mother-sentiment appears, to be followed..by the father-sentiment.
1838 E. B. Browning xix,
Press deeper down thy mother-smile His glossy curls among.
1875 H. Ellison 233
In sunshine of thy Mother-smile to bask.
1856 E. B. Browning i. 2,
I felt a mother-want about the world.
b. With sense ‘inherited or learned from one's mother, native’, as mother dialect, mother-sense, mother speech, mother-temper, etc. Cf. ,
1603 G. Owen
For otherwise the Englishe tongue had not ben theire comon and mother speache as it was.
1622 F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher
Let..your nimble tongs forget your mother Gibberish.
1644 Milton 2
He were nothing so much to be esteem'd a learned man, as any..tradesman competently wise in his mother dialect only.
1729 W. Law xix. 348
As we call our first language our mother-tongue, so we may as justly call our first tempers our mother-tempers.
1851 G. Borrow xvii,
You want two things, brother: mother sense, and gentle Rommany.
1868 W. Barnes Pref.,
My homely poems in our Dorset mother-speech.
1904 J. Wells vi. 64
A racy and powerful evangelist in his mother-Scotch.
1997 18 2
Ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia was largely language-based, i.e. ethnicity was defined by the mother dialect.
a. With sense ‘that is the source or origin of others, or (occas.) that fulfils a protective or nurturing role’, as mother colony, mother-lodge, mother vein, etc. See also ,
Ȝe habbeð an dale iherd..of þeo þe me cleopeð seoue moder sunnen.
1325 in J. Robertson
Incipiendo ad inferiorem finem de la Modirlech qui vocatur Gramos et sic ambulando [etc.].
1479 in J. Raine
II. 24 (MED),
Molendinum..cum stagno et le modir-dame.
1593 R. Hooker i. iii. 53
Those principall & mother elements of the world, wherof all things in this lower world are made.
1604 S. Hieron Preachers Plea in
Because ignorance is a mother sin, therefore [etc.].
1611 R. Cotgrave ,
Veine saphene, the mother veine.
?1611 G. Chapman tr. Homer xxii. 302
Till they reacht, where those two mother springs, Of deepe Scamander, pour'd abroad, their siluer murmurings.
1691 J. Norris 118
Love..is a general Mother Vertue, and the principle of a more particular and special Obedience.
1763 J. Mills IV. 403
The layers..must be allowed two years to take root, before they are cut off from the mother-tree.
1784 M. Weighton 9
The mother drain, or navigable canal, now made.
1791 E. Darwin I. i. 32
Lifts proud Anteus from his mother-plains.
1798 S. T. Coleridge 176
O dear Britain! O my Mother Isle!
1824 T. De Quincey Historico-crit. Inq. Rosicrucians & Free-masons in Jan. 7
These orders have degrees—many or few according to the constitution of the several mother-lodges.
1854 A. P. Stanley
The Cathedral of Canterbury [is] the mother cathedral of England.
1874 R. W. Raymond 342
On the supposition that it is the mother-vein of the country from which the ores of the Silver Flat..are derived.
1897 J. J. Knight 25
The mother colony had to be fought.
1907 Aug. 320
These granules consist of a zymogen, or mother-ferment, which is called trypsinogen.
1937 M. Covarrubias iv. 75
When the [rice] field is prepared, the mother-seed, which has been picked from the largest and most beautiful ears, is soaked for two days and two nights, then spread on a mat and sprinkled with water until the germ breaks through.
1964 P. F. Anson ix. 421
St Dunstan's Abbey was advertised as ‘the Mother-Community’.
1973 31 May 1544/2
While St. Kitts is now completely independent in internal matters, its people..recall with pride the island's role as the ‘Mother Colony’ for the British Empire in the Caribbean.
b. With sense ‘designating an animal that is a mother, or (more generally) is of breeding age’, as mother cat, mother cow, mother sheep, etc.
A moder ass yee sal þar find, And yee hir sal vn-do Vte of hir band.
?1465 R. Calle in
There lefte be-hynde of Heylesdon folde of my mastre schepe xlj modreschep.
1506 T. Pynnowe Will in A. Jobson
I bequethe to eche of my godchildren a mother scheep.
1630 in R. Griffiths
No Trinck shall stand to fish before any Breach Mouth at the rising or sinking of any Mother-Fishes, or in the Time of Spawn or Brood of Fishes.
1697 Dryden tr. Virgil Georgics iii, in tr. Virgil 99
The Mother Cow must wear a low'ring look.
1793 W. Cowper 45
The mother-bird is gone to sea.
1817 S. T. Coleridge ii. i. 77
The mother-falcon hath her nest above it.
1867 in J. G. McCoy
The term maverick which was formerly applied to unbranded yearlings is now applied to every calf which can be separated from the mother cow.
1882 E. A. Floyer 202
Then there were four old mother goats.
1911 E. M. Clowes xi. 278,
I..particularly remember one snow-white mother-kangaroo I once saw, a rare and beautiful creature.
1946 26 Oct. 586/2
Both ascribe recent failures of efforts to raise the population of remnants of natural oyster beds to inadequate properties of the mother-oysters used.
1975 2 July 3
The gill nets..were scooping up all the large or ‘mother’ cod.
1981 E. Jolley iii. 22
Weekly..had been more and more filled with admiration for this mother cat.
c. With sense ‘designating a woman or female figure who is a mother’. See also
1558 T. Phaer tr. Virgil i. sig. Biv,
My mother goddesse taught my way, as destny dyd me gyde.
Be ye Mother-patterns of Virtue to your Daughters.
1759 J. Grainger tr. Tibullus I. 41
Thee, Orpheus, what avail'd..Thy Mother-muse and beast-enchanting song.
1844 J. Ballantyne
Mither wives and laddie weans, Attack them whiles wi' clods and stanes.
1957 R. W. Zandvoort in 65 269
This is what a mother-evacuee said.
1960 B. Malinowski 26
‘Matriarchate’, the rule of the mother, does not in any way entail a stern, terrible mother-virago.
1977 B. Levin in 30 Oct. 38/7
Shelvesful of books discuss which of his characters represent the Id, and which the Mother-Archetype.
d. Med. and Biol. Designating a structure which gives rise to similar, often smaller, structures. Cf. , .
1874 14 304
The mother-meristem of the fibro-vascular system.
a1883 C. H. Fagge
In such cases [of infection by inoculation] however, there is developed a ‘primary’ or ‘mother-vesicle’.
1898 H. C. Porter tr. E. Strasburger et al. i. i. 62
The changes occurring in a mother nucleus preparatory to division are termed the prophases of the karyokinesis.
1977 J. L. Harper 19
The growth of a population of fronds from a mother frond is of course the growth of a clone.
1996 134 949
Fatty acid is directly or indirectly required for separating the mother nucleus into two equal daughters.
1850 J. S. Blackie tr. Æschylus I. 195
From hearth and home we chase All mother-murderers.
1875 W. B. Scott 234
Lo there! The mother-murderer!
2 May 24
Fear am on point of becoming mother murderer and writing book about it to pay for builder.
(St. John's Oxf.)
(BL Add. 15562)
A modyrslaer, matricida.
St. Mary Magdalen 462 in W. M. Metcalfe
Allace! nov is þe barne sa borne modyr-slaar.
1896 J. Curtin tr. H. Sienkiewicz v. 40
Why didst thou not glorify the death of Britannicus, and repeat panegyrics in honor of the mother-slayer?
1592 C'tess of Pembroke tr. R. Garnier i. sig. F3,
Orestes torche, Which sometimes burnt his mother-murdering soule.
1850 J. S. Blackie tr. Æschylus I. 74
The gods A mother-murdering shoot shall send from far To avenge his sire.
† mother-murdered adj. Obs.
c1602 Marlowe tr. Ovid ii. xiv. sig. D2,
1956 R. Firth & J. Djamour in R. Firth ii. 41
Some United States sociologists..have suggested the term ‘mother-centred families’ for households in which the mother has the dominant role.
1991 J. Sayers i. 11
Most of all, feminists have been attracted to mother-centred psychoanalysis because it apparently valorizes women's work, at least as mothers.
(orig. and chiefly U.S.
). Objective, forming nouns and adjectives acting as partial (more or less coarse) euphemisms for
Cf. , ,
1950 H. Ellson 7
It was that no good mother-jumper that owns the store.
1957 L. Margulies 43
But this motherjumper is a white stud.
1970 W. C. Woods 88
He used to be a sad mother jumper.
1977 M. Butler & D. Shyrack 130
All right, you mother-jumpers.
1959 C. Himes v. 27
Turn me loose, you mother-rapers! He's my brother and some mother-raper's going to pay.
1966 C. Himes iii. 30
Some mother-raper is shooting at me with water-melon seeds.
1989 R. Miller 62,
I didn't even read that mother raper.
1959 J. C. Holmes 68
Those mother-grabbin' slacks..were full of seeds!
1971 Mar. 92/3
‘Out of your mother-grabbing mind,’ Joanne said.
1961 R. Gover 19
He kin hardly git his mothahhumpin hands roun that wad!
1969 C. Brown 20
Like, it's none of their motherhumping business, right?
1974 C. Loken 46
He scored..every motherhumpin' point.
1986 J. C. Stinson & J. Carabatsos 163
Friggin' motherhumpin' Highway.
1949 ‘H. Ellson’ 97
We'd been talking about them mother-jumping Kings.
1964 K. Kesey 218
And good motherjumpin' riddance.
1969 in E. G. Romm
Fucking sonofabitch Fascist mother jumping cops.
1980 E. McDowell
Sanders, you seem to think you're running this mother-jumping platoon.
1932 E. Halyburton & R. Goll 306
When I talked to you mother-raping sewer rats at roll call I thought you were Americans.
1966 C. Himes ii. 22
The dirty mother-raping white nigger!
1969 C. Himes xxi. 226
Mother-raping cocksucking turdeating bastard, are you blind?
1956 N. Algren i. 102,
I can make it mother-murdering clearer if you want.
1981 T. C. Boyle
Tiggity Sego, mother-murdering mad over the Jarrans' defection, was now advancing on the town to chastise them.
Compounds with simple unmarked genitive.
† mother-half n.
[compare Middle Low German mōderhalf, Middle High German muoterhalp]
Obs. = .
Raulf wæs Bryttisc on his moderhealfe.
Crist..wass mann o moderr hallf.
Vor he was in is moder half seint edwardes broþer.
His frendis on the mudyrhalf and..on the fadyrhalf.
Andrew of Wyntoun
On hys modyr halff a Brettowne He wes be kynd off natyowne.
[compare Old Icelandic móður-mjólk]
now rare = .
My lauerd munde do to my saul als þe barne þat is done fra his modir milke ouir-arlike.
1989 G. Clarke Times like These in 49
Strontium 90, The bitter rain that stained our mother-milk.
† mother-side n.
[compare Old Frisian mōdersīde]
Obs. = .
▸a1387 J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden
(St. John's Cambr.)
II. 145 (MED),
He schulde raþer chese hem a kyng of þe moder side þan of þe fader side.
Half sisters of þer fader syde wedd þai, bot noȝt of þer moder syde.
1483 Caxton tr. J. de Voragine 70/2
This thamar was Absalons suster by the moder syde.
1525 Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart II. clxxxi. [clxxvii.] 551
He was extracte by his mother syde of a duke of Bretayne.
1622 J. Mabbe tr. M. Alemán ii. 184
His kinswoman by the mother-side.
1768 J. Boswell
Being uncle by the mother-side to Eurysthenes.
† mother-sister n.
[compare Middle Low German mōdersüster, Old Icelandic móður-systir]
Obs. a maternal aunt.
Ða stodon wið þa rode þæs hælendes modor & his modor swustor maria cleophe & maria magdalenisce.
By his rode his moder stod þat com þider þer-to, And Marie Cleophe his moder suster al-so.
a1646 D. Wedderburn
Matertera, the mother sister.
Compounds with mother's
mother's bairn n.
[compare earlier ]
Sc. rare a spoilt child.
1896 A. Lang i. 3
Of me, in our country speech, it used to be said that I was ‘a mother's bairn’.
mother's blessing n. slang (now arch. and rare) a painkiller, esp. laudanum.
1862 B. Hemyng in H. Mayhew
Extra vol. 245/2
My husband..can't do nothink but give the babies a dose of ‘Mother's Blessing’ (that's laudanum, sir, or some sich stuff) to sleep 'em when they's squally.
mother's boy n. a boy or man who is excessively influenced by, or attached to, his mother; a sissy; (also, occas.) a boy or man who resembles his mother.
[1721 N. Amhurst No. 8. ⁋ 11
Where one would stand it out..twenty chose rather to be fondled up, and call'd mother's nown boys at any expence.]
1862 Oct. 403/2
A mere boy, thin, consumptive, hollow-chested: a mother's-boy, Palmer saw, with fair hair and dreamy eyes.
1880 F. Stevenson Let. July in J. Pope-Hennessy
Louis is, as I know, a mother's boy..and I am sure he looks like you.
1930 D. H. Lawrence 197
Oh, women, beware the mother's boy!
1945 ‘L. Lewis’ ii. 25
Stan's happy as he is being supported by his mother. He's a mother's boy.
1989 Aug. 11/4
Claridge..has chosen a mother's-boy villain.
mother's darling n. a favoured or favourite child; (also) =
1592 T. Nashe
(Brit. Libr. copy)
A young Heyre or Cockney, that is his Mothers Darling.
1681 J. Oldham 80
All the soft weeping Loves about thee moan, At once their Mothers darling, and their own.
1785 F. Grose at Loll,
Mother's loll, a favourite child, the mother's darling.
1857 E. Bulwer-Lytton
I. i. i. 7
He looked like a mother's darling—perhaps he was one.
1922 J. Joyce i. ii. [Nestor] 32
That knockkneed mother's darling.
1936 ‘J. Tey’ iv. 41
Mother's darlings had those eyes; so, sometimes, had womanizers.
31 Mar. c28
In the beginning there was T-ball. Mothers' darlings swatted a rag ball from the top of a rubber pole, then scampered toward first base.
mother's daughter n. a woman; chiefly in every mother's daughter; cf. , .
a1625 J. Fletcher Womans Prize ii. ii, in F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher
Byancha. Get thee where There is no women living, nor no hope There ever shall be. Maria. If a Mothers daughter, That ever heard the name of stubborn husband Find thee, and know thy sinne.
1675 C. Cotton 147
Ladies! thou (Paris) moov'st my laughter, They'r Deities ev'ry Mothers Daughter.
1869 J. H. Browne 511
Every mother's daughter claimed she wore the identical tresses severed from the head of Marie Antoinette on the eve of her execution.
14 Aug. 1 b,
Wanted by every mother's daughter, and wild as the wind, ‘his only direction was his own’.
mother's help n. a domestic servant; spec. a person, usually a woman, employed to help look after children.
1908 A. S. M. Hutchinson i. vii. 41
She is not exactly my friend; she is my—my employer. I'm a mother's-help.
1982 A. Barr & P. York 67/2
After the children go to school, it's the downhill slope to cheaper assistance: mother's helps or The Dreaded Au Pair.
mother's knee n. the lap of one's mother, considered as a place of learning in infancy or as a place of safety and comfort; chiefly in to learn at one's mother's knee .
[1805 R. Southey v,
The very mother-language which I learnt, A lisping baby on mother's knees.]
1843 C. F. Hoffman II. 83
The religion learned at a mother's knee.
1909 ‘O. Henry’ 110
The big city is like a mother's knee to many who have strayed far and found the roads rough beneath their uncertain feet.
Raghubir Singh, an Indian photographer with an international reputation, has had a passion for the Ganga—the River Ganges to non-Indians—since he learned of its sacred qualities at his mother's knee.
Hill..is a hands-on cook. It was not an art he learned at his mother's knee.
mother's little helper n. slang a tranquillizer.
1966 M. Jagger & K. Richard
(song, perf. ‘The Rolling Stones’)
I hear every mother say ‘Mother needs something today to calm her down.’ And tho' she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill; she goes runnin' for the shelter of her mother's little helper.
For many ‘mother's little helper’—tranquillisers—are the only way to blot out the daily suffering.
1993 9 Nov. 18
At the outset Valium—‘mother's little helper’—and its stablemates appeared to cause few problems, yet in time distressing withdrawal symptoms were experienced.
22 Nov. (Society section) 11
Jenner, now 72 and retired, should therefore perhaps be glowing with pride in his farmhouse near Sheffield, after playing his part in the creation of the drug [sc. Valium], known affectionately as ‘mother's little helper’.
mother's mark n. now rare a birthmark (usually a naevus or haemangioma); cf.
1797 XII. 615/2
Nævus, a mole on the skin, generally called a mother's mark.
1887 14 Jan. 33/2
The larger part of the body has remained through life covered with a thick coat of strong hair, due..to an enormously large mother's mark.
1949 H. W. C. Vines
These growths..give rise to the common cutaneous nævi, the so-called port-wine stains or mother's marks.
mothers' meeting n.
(also mother's meeting)
(a) a regular meeting of mothers connected with a parish or congregation, for the purpose of receiving instruction and advice, or for social contact;
(b) colloq. (in extended use, with humorous overtones) a gathering of people in (prolonged) conversation together.
1865 C. M. Yonge II. xxx. 312
The mothers' meetings for the soldiers' wives.
1887 ‘E. Lyall’
I was trying to get the Mothers'-Meeting accounts right.
1925 E. Fraser & J. Gibbons 159
Mother's meeting, an occasional name among bluejackets for the captain's address to a ship's company.
1946 D. Hamson xviii. 195,
I noticed one particular squad which was openly idling... ‘Why do you stop work and hold a mother's meeting when I go away?’
27 Nov. NJ20/2
Part of the program's success, Mrs. Calamoneri said, depends on close association with the parents. Informal mothers' meetings are held monthly, and there are parent-teacher conferences every six weeks.
13 Mar. 13
Line managers' reports are countersigned by more senior officers and are discussed at divisional meetings—known as ‘mothers' meetings’—attended by a personnel representative.
mother's pet n. a spoilt or delicate child; (formerly also) Sc. †the youngest child of a family (obs.).
1819 J. H. Reynolds 37
My little boy—his mother's pet, After sucking is sometimes sick up-On his mother's apron lap.
1824 J. Mactaggart 348
Mithers-pet, the youngest child of a family; the mother's greatest favourite; the Tony Lumpkin of the house.
1830 A. Picken I. 104
He was..as raw looking, overgrown, gawky a youth, as any mother's pet of a student.
1867 D. Livingstone Jrnl. 28 July in
I. viii. 222
A poor old woman and child are among the captives, the boy about three years old seems a mother's pet.
a1939 C. Porter
It's time that Mother's pet should start to dress.
26 June i. 15/1
The troll actors are outstanding. Niehls Kehlet's Diderik burst out with sudden high jumps to signify a spoiled, irascible mother's pet.
mother's ruin n. slang gin.
1933 W. Juniper 229
Perhaps gin is your tipple; then you are for blue-ruin,..heartsease, mother's ruin,..Brian O'Lynn, or rag-water.
1955 P. Jones i. 10,
I have been to a party, darling... What would you like? ‘Mother's Ruin’?
1970 23 Apr. 165/2
Gin, as shown by the old temperance demonstration of dropping earthworms into adjacent glasses of water and mother's ruin, can certainly eliminate unwanted planarians.
1991 M. S. Power
A little gin for me, I think. Mother's ruin.
mother's side n. maternal descent; chiefly in on (also by, †of) the (also his, her, etc.) mother's side .
c1451 J. Capgrave 63 (MED),
Than was þis man medeled with too blodis, Norman of þe fader side, Englisch of þe moderis side.
1621 M. Wroth 471
By my mothers side I had, and haue many noble, and braue friends as any man can haue.
1724 J. Henley et al. tr. Pliny the Younger I. i. xiv. 34
His Grandmother of the Mother's side is Serana Procula of Padua.
1835 T. Mitchell tr. Aristophanes 558
Alcibiades, who, on the mother's side, was sprung from Cœsyra.
1919 21 28
The sib..excludes one half of the blood-kindred—the father's side of the family in matronymic, the mother's side in patronymic societies.
1996 S. Deane
Great-uncle Constantine, on my mother's side, was the sole family heretic.
Mothers' Union n.
(also Mother's Union)
an Anglican organization for women, founded in 1876, with a particular interest in the quality of family life.
1888 M. E. Sumner vi. 55
The ‘Mothers' Union’, now started in the Winchester Diocese, and in other Dioceses, is a very simple plan.
1972 L. Lamb xiv. 123,
I shall have to run a mothers' union or something.
1997 7 Mar. 5/1
The general image of the Mother's Union is of an elderly organisation, so cliquish as to be regarded almost as a secret society.
1999 23 Oct. 3/7
A drinking water tank has been constructed at a cost of Rs 45,000 by the local Mothers' Union.
Phrasal combinations with of
† mother of anchovies n. Obs. rare the scad, Trachurus trachurus.
† mother of a thousand n. Eng. regional (Northants.) Obs. the hen-and-chicken daisy, Bellis perennis var. prolifera.
1854 A. E. Baker II. 34
Mother of a thousand, the hen-and-chicken daisy.
1728 E. Chambers at Clove,
Mother of Cloves.
1968 J. W. Purseglove II. 401
The dried fruits, mother of cloves, are sometimes used as an adulterant and a spice.
1867 W. W. Smyth 34
Soft mineral charcoal or ‘mother-of-coal’.
1877 VI. 48/1
The last, which is known in England as ‘mother of coal’, resembles a soft, dull, black charcoal, containing abundant traces of vegetable fibre.
1958 46 447
Such fragments are often abundant and were once called..‘mother of coal’, but Stopes introduced the French word ‘fusain’ in her work on coal petrology.
† Mother of Commonwealths n. U.S. Obs. rare the State of Virginia.
1879 10 Jan. 413/2
To pour out the vials of his impotent wrath upon the ‘Mother of Commonwealths’.
mother of emeralds n.
(also mother of emerald)
any of several green varieties of quartz or feldspar.
[1772 G. von Engeström & E. M. da Costa tr. A. F. Cronstedt
Plasma or mother of the emerald.]
1797 VI. 567/2
Hence the green cochle spar brought from Egypt may have obtained the name of mother of emeralds.
1910 IX. 332/2
‘Mother of emerald’ is generally a green quartz or perhaps in some cases a green felspar.
† Mother of Floods n. U.S. Obs. rare the Missouri river.
1831 J. M. Peck ii. 24
‘The Mother of Floods’, said to be the aboriginal meaning of Missouri.
1853 C. A. Dana 61
From the savage nations on its banks it [sc. the Missouri] bore the name indifferently of ‘The Smoky Water’, ‘The Mad River’, ‘The Mother of Floods’, each significant of its distinctive features.
mother of millions n. Eng. regional ivy-leaved toadflax, Cymbalaria muralis.
1832 A. E. Bray Let. in
I. xviii. 318
Mother of millions with its numerous small drooping flowers.
1859 3 147
What in Devon is called Mother-of-millions, viz. Linaria Cymbalaria.
1958 Nov. 488/2
‘Mother of thousands’... The name is given to the Ivy-leaved Toad-flax which is also known as ‘Mother of Millions’.
mother of months n.
(also mother of the months)
poet. (now rare) the moon.
1613 S. Purchas 13
The silent Moone; which..is Queene of the Night,..Mother of moneths.
a1822 Shelley Witch of Atlas iv, in
Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent Her bow beside the folding-star.
1865 A. C. Swinburne 3
The mother of months..Fills the shadows and windy places With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain.
1902 H. E. H. King 32
Among the hollow clouds, Through silver centuries of centuries, Mother of Months, thou hast not dreamt of this.
Mother of Parliaments n. (originally) England; (later) the British Parliament.
1865 J. Bright in 19 Jan. 5/1
We may be proud of this, that England is the ancient country of Parliaments... England is the mother of Parliaments.
1910 VII. 15/1
The early date at which the principle of self-government was established in England, the steady growth of the principle, the absence of civil dissension, and the preservation in the midst of change of so much of the old organization, have given its constitution a great influence over the ideas of politicians in other countries. This fact is expressed in the proverbial phrase—‘England is the mother of parliaments’.
1918 12 Nov. 6/2
Never has the Mother of Parliaments seen such a scene of enthusiasm as when Mr. Lloyd George read out the armistice terms yesterday.
1926 H. H. Asquith II. vii. 228
The phrase had already become proverbial before it was used by Mr. Bright. It is a vulgar error to speak of the English Parliament as the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.
1974 24 Aug. 2/4
France Soir..went on to explain why in the country of the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ social tension has grown.
1990 24 May 112/3
Warm feelings about the mother of parliaments had been generated by British support for the Hungarians in their uprising of 1848.
Mother of Presidents n. U.S. (originally) the State of Virginia; (now also) (more fully Modern Mother of Presidents) the State of Ohio.
1827 A. Sherwood 98
James Monroe..was born in Va., the mother of Presidents.
1850 App. 13 May 563/3
Viginia, the mother of Presidents, the Old Dominion.
1897 8 Mar. 4/1
Ohio may claim to take rank with Virginia as a ‘mother of presidents’.
1904 12 June 8
Virginia concluded not to indorse any candidate. The ‘Mother of Presidents’ is a trifle particular.
1942 L. V. Berrey & M. Van den Bark §48/33
Ohio, Buckeye State, Modern Mother of Presidents, Scarlet Carnation State, [etc.].
6 Dec. b1
‘Virginia is the mother of presidents. We'd love to have another one,’ said Trixie Averill, who coordinated Allen's 1993 gubernatorial campaign.
10 Jan. 9 a,
Before it became known as ‘the Mother of Presidents’, the state of Ohio might well have deserved to be known as the Father of Impeachment.
Mother of States n. U.S. the State of Virginia (also Mother of States and Statesmen); (also, occas.) the State of Connecticut (rare).
1834 W. A. Caruthers ii. 195
Virginia has been the mother of states.
1838 3 86
To thee, Mother of States! to thee, good old Connecticut, do our praises most belong.
1855 21 675/1
Virginia..[was] hailed as ‘the Mother of States’.
1896 9 June 6342/2
That grand old Commonwealth of Virginia, the mother of States and statesmen.
1915 J. A. Early 99
Enough men to fill the petty offices..could not be found in all the limits of that old commonwealth which has been designated ‘the mother of states and statesmen’.
13 Dec. (Extra section) 1
Mother of states, mother of presidents. Virginia has also mothered a good portion of award-winning authors this century.
† mother of the herrings n.
(also mother of herrings)
Obs. rare the allis shad, Alosa alosa.
1686 F. Willughby & J. Ray ix. ix. §9
Clupea..Angl. A Shad, the Mother of the Herrings.
1776 T. Pennant
(ed. 4, octavo)
Shad, or Mother of Herrings. Wil. Icth. 227.
† mother of the wood n. Obs. rare—0 the plant woodruff, Asperula odorata.
mother of thyme n.
(also mother of time)
now chiefly N. Amer. any of several thymes or related plants, esp.
(a) wild thyme, Thymus polytrichus;
(b) Eng. regional (Somerset), basil thyme, Acinos arvensis.
1597 J. Gerard ii. 457
Wild Time is called..in English..Mother of Time, and our Ladies Bedstrawe.
1693 S. Dale 234
Serpullum vulgare,..Mother of Thyme.
1794 W. Hutchinson II. 525
Upon the banks of Eden grows an herb called mother of thyme, said to be medicinal.
1886 J. Britten & R. Holland 343
Mother of Thyme, Calamintha Acinos, Clairv.—Som[erset].
(L. H. Bailey Hortorium)
[Thymus] praecox Opiz... Mother-of-thyme.
† mother-of-wheat n. Sc. Obs. ivy-leaved speedwell, Veronica hederifolia, a weed of cornfields.
1853 G. Johnston I. 155
Veronica Hederifolia. Mother-of-Wheat—a name which implies that the plant grows best in a soil fitted for the cultivation of that grain.
1876 12 39/2
Veronica hederifolia is named by farmers [near Kelso] the ‘mother-of-wheat’.
† mother of yaws n. Obs. a mama-pian, a mother yaw.
mother of all —— n.
[in quot. after Arabic umm al-maʿārik mother of battles (see also note below)]
something that is outstanding or exemplary (in magnitude, importance, etc.); anything that is definitive in character, or that is the epitome of its kind; freq. humorous. Cf. .Popularized as a catchphrase by Saddam Hussein (b. Saddam bin Hussein at-Takriti 1937), President of Iraq from 1979, with reference to the Gulf War (see quot. ). Perh. reinforced in later use by the euphemistic use of mother to mean ‘motherfucker’ (see sense and ), hence the occas. occurrence of the form mutha in the phrase.
[1892 R. Kipling
The father and mother of all weed-spuds.]
1878 F. H. Hart 99,
I seed the biggest trout I ever laid eyes on... The mother of all the trouts in Reese River, by thunder.
1936 B. Atkinson in 28 Dec. 13/2
Ilka Chase presides over the proceedings like the mother of all vultures; playing the part as it was written, she leaves no bone unpicked.
1990 tr. S. Hussein in
22 Sept. ME/0876/A/1
What midgets they are! May they, most of all Bush and his servants Fahd and Husni, be accursed... Everybody must realise that this battle will be the mother of all battles.
1992 15 Feb. 92/1
America's current economic recession is being billed as the ‘mother of all recessions’: the economy, it is claimed, is mired in its longest recession since the second world war.
1995 17 Mar. 35/1
What writers can suffer from is the notorious writer's block, and I've just been reading the work of Henry Roth, the man famous for enduring the mother of all writer's blocks.
2000 22 May 22/2
A sentimental fantasy by director Gregory Hoblit which wants to be the mother of all father-son movies.
1928 G. Whiting 220
The Cow-and-Calf and Mother-and-Babe bobbins—they are a perfect, never-ending joy and a masterpiece of the Midlands!
mother-bomb n. Mil. rare a canister containing a cluster of explosive devices.
1971 21 Jan. 135/2
Shrapnel grenades..are dropped individually, or in clusters from canisters (‘mother-bombs’).
† mother-borough n.
[compare Old High German muoterburg]
Obs. rare the chief town or city of a country; = .
Þe moderburh of Alixandres riche.
mother cell n. Biol. a cell that is undergoing or that has undergone cell division (esp. meiosis); a cell that is regarded as a precursor (of a particular structure, tissue, etc.).
The process in question..consists first, in the foundations of young cells arising apparently in no other way than by divisions of the nucleus of a mother-cell.
1875 A. W. Bennett & W. T. T. Dyer tr. J. von Sachs 440
The pollen-grains, when free from their mother-cells, are unicellular and spherical.
1932 C. D. Darlington i. 5
In a ‘mother-cell’ two nuclear divisions follow one another rapidly while the chromosomes only divide once.
1992 M. Ingrouille 48
They give rise to a group of central mother cells from which regular files of small vacuolated cells arise, called rib meristem.
mother clove n. the fruit of the clove tree, Syzygium aromaticum, resembling a clove in appearance when dried, but less aromatic.
1690 S. Blankaart 41
Anthophylli... Angl. Mother cloves.
I chose some of the largest Cloves I could find, called Mother-Cloves.
1861 R. Bentley ii. iii. 553
The dried unripe fruits are called mother cloves; they are used in China and other countries as a spice.
1929 H. A. Nicholls & J. H. Holland
The ovaries covered with the lower part of the calyx then swell and form the fruit, which is a large ovoid purple berry, containing one or two seeds, and known as the ‘mother clove’.
1959 III. 667/1
If pollination and fertilization take place, the ovary [of the clove tree] develops into a juicy, purple berry called the ‘mother clove’.
We have not hitherto found any tissue at all resembling that which occurs occasionally abundantly in bituminous coal, and is known as mineral charcoal and mother-coal.
1873 J. W. Dawson vi. 118
A dusty fibrous substance, like charcoal, called ‘mother-coal’ by miners.
1900 22 Mar.,
He would have discarded a piece of coal which was shown to him as being unmarketable, because a thin line of what was termed ‘mother coal’ ran through it.
1975 xlix. 43
Mother coal, a powdery charcoal substance found layered in the coal.
mother complex n. Psychoanal. a complex () of emotions aroused in a young boy by an unconscious sexual desire for his mother; cf. .
1919 M. K. Bradby v. 59
If sexual fixation takes place at the third stage, the ‘mother-complex’ will create an obstacle to a man's happiness in married life.
1936 C. Day Lewis i. vi. 87
He sucks a pipe constantly. The mother-complex. Infantilism.
1960 R. F. C. Hull tr. Jung Struct. & Dynamics of Psyche in
VIII. v. 369
Analysis shows an infantile longing for the mother, a so-called mother complex.
1992 C. P. Estés vi. 174
In Jungian psychology, this entire tangle is called the mother complex.
mother cult n. Cultural Anthropol. the worship of a mother goddess.
1909 2 Feb. 5/1
From the trend of recent writings in Hindu literature it is suggested that the Mother cult has been revived.
1924 L. A. Waddell 102
The chain of Van names.., seems evidenced by the following... All in the traditional area of the Matriarchic Mother-cult.
10 May a5
In the fifth century, devotion to the Virgin Mary emerged as a new Mother cult, with this Mother of God firmly replacing Cybele, the Mother of the Gods.
mother-descent n. rare descent on or through the mother's side.
1642 T. Fuller iv. xv. 313
Her royall birth by her Fathers side doth comparatively make her Mother-descent seem low.
He believed there was no division into exogamous clans with mother-descent.
Mother English n. the English language as a mother tongue or first language, spec. when viewed positively as a model of expression, esp. in terms of plainness and straightforwardness, or (later) with reference to Standard English as a model of correctness.
1816 Scott Old Mortality Peroration, in 1st Ser. IV. 346
O, ignorance! as if the vernacular article of our mother English were capable of declension!
a1834 S. T. Coleridge
Ludicrous as these introductory Scraps of French appear, so instantly followed by good nervous mother-english.
1873 Sept. 613/1
Scholars are more able to quote Demosthenes and Cicero than to make a stirring speech in their own mother English.
1910 W. de la Mare 107
That's mother-English, that is! Now we's beginning to unnerstand one another.
1960 J. Barth i. i. 13
Ebenezer Cooke..who, like his friends-in-folly..had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over.
The purism of Mother English breeds a corresponding Puritanism among the natives kicking against her clutches. If Soyinka was patronised in Cambridge, he has been vilified in Lagos for corrupting Yoruba culture by writing in English in the first place.
mother figure n. a person or thing endowed with some of the attributes of a mother, esp. an older woman who is seen as a source of nurture, support, etc.
1932 32 285/2
The first origin of the Mother-figure goes back at least as far as the Aurignacian age.
1945 M. Klein
The early splitting of the mother figure into a good and bad ‘breast mother’ as a way of dealing with ambivalence had been very marked.
1971 18 Jan. 10/7
The association also says there should be a ‘mother figure’ in each nursing school to whom students can turn for advice.
1997 P. Cornwell v. 38
Lucy worships you. You're the only decent mother figure she's ever had.
mother-fit n. now hist. = sense ; usu. in pl.
1657 P. Henry
1681 N. Grew i. i. 4
A Thong hereof ty'd about the middle, is of good use..especially against Mother-Fits.
1939 M. Spring Rice viii. 204
To brew..‘simples’ against ‘mother-fits’.
1942 32 205
He remembered that some women troubled with the Mother fits did complain of a choking in their throats.
mother-fixated adj. fixated on one's mother, suffering from a mother fixation.
1943 6 358
She has one mother-fixated and mother-smothered daughter who is now in her thirties and is staging a mild and much-belated postadolescent rebellion.
1977 7 Apr. 21/2
The power of the Jewish mother in the home has led some people to wonder if all Jewish men are not mother-fixated (and consequently gay!).
Alan Cox is in wonderfully creepy form as the playboy, Charles Bruno, a mother-fixated psychopathic lush who hates his father.
mother fixation n. Psychoanal. a fixation () on one's mother.
1921 2 55
Jesus is no longer satisfied to make Joseph his ideal (a hard task for a boy with a strong Mother-fixation of love).
1954 7 393
Rationalism has handed the problem [of worship] over to the psychologist to explain in terms of repressions, mother-fixations, infantile-regressions and the like.
1982 23 Dec. 56/1
Grainger's mother-fixation is well known.
1992 L. S. Marcus 28
With a nod to popular concern over the dreaded ‘mother fixation’, she suggested that children might actually be better served by mothers with other interests to occupy them.
[ < + ]
Coal Mining Eng. regional (north-east.) the main passage in a series of mine workings, through which coal is conveyed to the surface.
1839 XV. 247
When the bord or ‘mother-gate’ has proceeded some distance on both sides of the pit [etc.].
1848 (Newcastle Terms) 124
Mothergate, the bord along which the coals are trammed from a district of workings.
1942 12 95
At last they came to the end of the long, low mothergate which follows the coal-face.
Mother General n. Christian Church a female head of a religious order (cf. sense ).
1865 June 311,
I have begged our mother-general to allow the 200 francs which you were so good as to send us for postage, to be devoted to the first expenses of the chapel.
1924 B. Camm
Mother Mary of St Peter. Foundress and first mother-general of the nuns of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre (Tyburn).
1991 M. Binchy
She had certainly been up every road as far as the Order was concerned. She had written to the Mother General.
The Congregation of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth was founded in London in 1865 by Cardinal Wiseman and Mother St Basil, the first Mother General of the Congregation.
mother hen n. fig. a person, organization, etc., that takes care of others, esp. in an overprotective manner.
1873 1 Mar. 533/2
Dürten will go with you; she is always ready to be mother-hen to the little chicken.
1952 23 Aug. 20/2
The General Tire and Rubber Company announced today the formation of a Government-approved ‘mother hen’ holding company to help smaller concerns get war orders.
1977 19 Dec. 9/2
She also served as mother hen for Portuguese contingents in their travels to international beauty contests.
Titus Bramble gave a titanic show for Ipswich in their 1-1 draw with Fiorentina at Portman Road and then paid tribute to his ‘mother hen’ John Scales, the 34-year-old ex-England defender.
mother house n. the founding house of a religious order.
Dr. Leyburn does calumniate us, as being Enemies to our Mother-house, the Colledge of Doway.
a1773 A. Butler
When in 1504 the abbey of Mount Cassino joined this Congregation, it took the name of this mother-house.
1840 K. H. Digby x. i. 9
Cisteaux, the mother house of the order, [was] founded..in 1098... La Ferté was the first branch house.
1932 C. P. Curran in F. J. Sheed 269
In this spirit she worked for ten years in the Mother-house and novitiate.
1999 M. Greenwood et al. ii. xvi. 559
The Cistercian order, of which Mellifont was the mother house in Ireland.
† mother-idea n.
[after French idée mère (1745)]
Obs. an idea regarded as giving rise to or being fundamental to something.
1821 P. S. Du Ponceau Let. in M. O. Pickering
This is a mother-idea that will create a new title in philological literature.
1858 O. W. Holmes x. 270
There is a mother-idea in each particular kind of tree, which, if well marked, is probably embodied in the poetry of every language.
1873 Aug. 237/2,
I can fancy myself in the caverns where the archetypical ideas—the mother ideas, as Goethe calls them—wove the web of life.
mother image n. an ideal or archetypal mother figure; (Psychoanal.) =
1923 29 250
He..fails, because of the mother-image, to establish satisfactory relations with the other sex.
1941 L. MacNeice vii. 138
It would be tempting to regard Cathleen ni Houlihan, the Poor Old Woman, as a mother image and so to refer much of Irish nationalism to a mother-fixation.
1973 J. Singer iv. 91
The Mother image appeared under strange circumstances to my analysand Margaret.
1996 A. Theroux 175
A middle-aged male gay twanker walking arm-in-arm with another mother image.
mother imago n. Psychoanal. the mental or realized image of an idealized or archetypal mother.
1916 B. M. Hinkle tr. C. G. Jung v. 250
That amount of libido which unconsciously is fastened to the mother-imago.
1956 R. F. C. Hull tr. Jung Symbols of Transformation in V. ii. v. 222
The water and tree symbolism..likewise refer to the libido that is unconsciously attached to the mother-imago.
1991 July 162
The idealization of the father is more correctly seen as the result of the splitting of the mother imago into one good and one bad part, where the image of the ‘good mother’ is projected on to the father, and the mother is cast as the repository for all that is evil.
mother-in-babe adj. designating a wooden bobbin with a hollow shank which contains another smaller bobbin.
1919 T. Wright xiii. 126
Mother-in-Babe Bobbins, in the hollowed shank of which a tiny wooden bobbin rattles.
1969 E. H. Pinto xxi. 311
Collectively, they are known as church window bobbins, but those with smaller bobbins inside the windows are described as mother-in-babe types.
mother kingdom n. now hist. a kingdom in relation to its colonies or dependencies; (also, occas.) an original or earlier kingdom from which another develops.
1690 J. Child x. 178
Where there is little Manufacturing,..the profit of Plantations, viz. the greatest part thereof will not redound to the Mother-Kingdom.
1726 Swift II. iv. xii. 348
Their Caution in stocking their Provinces with People of sober Lives and Conversations from this the Mother Kingdom.
1897 Apr. 529/2
It had its dawn more than three hundred years ago in the struggle of the little mother kingdom with the colossal power of Spain.
30 Apr. s6
Before the end of the 6th century, about A.D. 595, the colony achieved complete independence from the Irish mother kingdom.
The solution obtained is to be precipitated by a strong solution of muriate of ammonia; a bright yellow pulverulent substance will fall, and a mother liquid..remain.
1848 G. Fownes
The mother-liquid from flesh from which the kreatine has been deposited contains, among other things, a new acid, the inosinic, the aqueous solution of which refuses to crystallize.
1936 Feb. 86/4
When the raw sugar is crystallized out of the sugar cane juice, a mother liquid is left. Concentrated and clarified, this is molasses, of which there are different grades according to the amount of sugar taken out.
1995 153 25
The stability towards decomposition in solid state, mother-liquid and pure water solutions.
mother liquor n. the liquid remaining after a dissolved substance has crystallized out.
?1698 in D. R. Hainsworth
The refining liquer is caled the mother liquer.
[They] afford no crystals, but only a magma or mother liquor.
1865–72 H. Watts III. 316
The mother-liquor of the iridium-salt.
1890 W. de W. Abney
The mother liquor may be employed for intensifying.
1952 H. Diehl & G. F. Smith ii. 33
Precipitates that occlude the mother liquor seriously should be dissolved.
1994 236 990
Electron micrographs of mechanically disintegrated crystals show that the inside of the protein cluster is filled with the mother liquor.
†(a) love for one's mother (obs.);
(b) maternal love.
‘Þis is þin modor, & þu hie þe for modor hafa.’ & he þa, Iohanne[s], swa dyde, & he hie þa in moderlufan hæfde.
1683 F. Willis et al. tr. xxx. 66
All [the young ones] gape for Food, and All The Mother Love with chirpings call.
1843 T. Westwood 27
A love to equal that sweet mother-love of thine.
1857 T. J. Powis xi. 106
All things rest,..Lulled in Mary's mother-love.
1915 C. P. Gilman Herland in May 128/1
The power of mother-love, that maternal instinct we so highly laud, was theirs of course, raised to its highest power.
1989 9 May 14
Victims of the perverse side of motherlove.
mother-lye n. now hist. the mother liquor of an alkali (also fig.).
1756 F. Home 25
Out of their first or mother lye, the second..is made in this manner.
1800 3 82
These mother-leys still contain a certain quantity of caustic soda.
1865 J. Wilde I. 331/2
The fluid from which crystals are precipitated is called mother-lye.
1921 Aug. 111
The primal impulse by which worlds evolved out of chaos, nebulae or any other mother-lye.
[compare Middle Dutch moedermaget, Middle High German muotermaget]
now rare (poet. in later use) the Virgin Mary.
c1390 Chaucer 1657
O moder mayde! O mayde moder free!
1605 J. Sylvester tr. G. de S. Du Bartas Triumph of Faith in tr. 569
That Mother-Maide, Who Sier-les bore her Sire, yet euer-Maid.
1612 J. Donne 2nd Anniv. in 341
Where thou shalt see the blessed Mother-maid.
1835 Wordsworth Russ. Fugitive iii. v, in 135
The Mother-maid whose countenance bright With love abridged the day.
1840 F. H. C. Doyle 166
They fall together on their knees, With one short thrilling prayer for aid, To the good saints..And the blest mother-maid.
1911 E. Nesbit 61
The Christ, the Mother-Maid, The incense of the hearts that praised and prayed.
mother-maiden n. now rare (poet. in later use) =
St. Mary of Oignies ii. ii, in
8 173 (MED),
He [sc. Christ] schewed hym..in Criste-masse lyke a childe soukynge þe pappes of þe moder-mayden.
1869 ‘G. Eliot’ Agatha in Aug. 207
Holy Gabriel, lily-laden, Bless the aged mother-maiden.
1875 S. Evans 124
Mother-Maiden! The Hope of the Woman! The Woman through whom was the Word!
1911 E. Nesbit 85
Have pity on me—Mother-maiden sweet.
mother mark n. now rare a birthmark (cf. ).
1822 J. M. Good IV. 682
These [moles] differ essentially from nævi or genuine mother-marks.
(U.S. Dept. Agric. Bureau Animal Industry)
The angiomas are tumors composed mainly of blood vessels or blood spaces and are observed on the skin of man, where they are called ‘birthmarks’ or ‘mother marks’.
[after mother liquor]
Metall. rare a solid mass of metals or alloy left after some of a metal has separated out by crystallization.
1902 XXIX. 573/2
By which time so much iron has separated out that the remaining mother-metal has reached the composition of hardenite.
Mother Midnight n. slang (now hist.) (a name for) a midwife; (also, occas.) a bawd.
1602 F. Herring tr. J. Oberndorf 11
One while hee playeth the Apothecarie, other whiles serueth in stead of Mother Midnight.
1636 W. Sampson IV. sig. H2,
Well drunck Mother mid-night.
1699 B. E. ,
Mother Midnight, a Midwife (often a Bawd).
1722 D. Defoe 196,
I really did not understand her, but my Mother Midnight began very seriously to explain what she meant.
1752 W. Kenrick i. 5
Here a poor Birth-strangled Babe, Ditch-deliver'd by a Drab; Child of Poverty and Spleen, Mother Midnight's Magazine.
1786 ‘A. Pasquin’ 14
Mother Midnight, have you washed the large table-cloth?
1988 22 265
A fully realized Mother Midnight, this bawd..personifies the fate that attends the reproductive body.
mother mould n. Sculpture a rigid mould which holds casting material.
1898 C. R. Ashbee tr. B. Cellini 116
Put them into the cavities..in the mould... Or ‘mother mould’ as the sculptors would call it.
1947 J. C. Rich v. 100
A heavily bodied plaster mix can be applied over the agar impression to form a mother mold or casing.
1969 R. Mayer 254/1
Mother mold, an outer case or container for a negative mold made of gelatin, rubber, or another weak, flexible substance. The mother mold is made of a rigid material.
15 Sept. f18
The latex is covered with a reinforcing material to make a ‘mother mold’.
mother nation n.
(a) a nation in relation to its colonies or dependencies; a nation from which others evolved;
(b) a nation in which something originated.
1622 Bacon Advt. Holy Warre in
There are other bands of society, and implicit confederations. That of colonies, or transmigrants, towards their mother nation.
1757 M. Postlethwayt x. 267
To the Advantage of..the general Prosperity of their Colonies, in Conjunction with that of their Mother-nation.
1897 A. Drucker tr. R. J. von Ihering 20
The endeavour of Indologians to attribute the highest possible degree of civilization to the mother-nation.
1942 52 142
Outlying territories that have come under the control of the mother-nation.
12 Apr. 42
The memories of Ecuador's extraordinary victory over the mother nation of tennis on their most hallowed territory, Wimbledon, last July, came flooding back.
Mother Nature n. see sense .
† mother-pian n. Obs. rare a mother yaw.
1898 P. Manson xxvii. 428
A large persistent yaw is sometimes known as the ‘mother’, ‘grandmother’ or ‘mama-pian’.
mother plane n. orig. U.S. an aircraft which launches, controls, or tends another aircraft (in quot. with reference to a spacecraft; cf. ).
1936 6 July 9/1
Progress on the pick-a-back airplane, a combination in which a ‘mother’ plane will carry on its back a smaller long range seaplane for ‘launching’ at high altitude is more secret.
1945 19 Nov. 52/2
Everything it sees is projected by radio on a screen in the mother plane.
1977 C. Thomas
He will not refuel in the air—we would know if some mother-plane were waiting for him over neutral or hostile sky.
1999 10 June 52/4
A wheel-shaped spaceship..called the Mother Plane..carrying fifteen hundred smaller ships.
mother plant n. a plant that is the source of seed (or ovules), seedlings, or vegetative propagules.
1656 H. More xi. 364
Now this regular conformation of the seed came from the uniforme motion of particles in the Mother-plant.
1707 J. Mortimer
I think those raised by Layers from a Mother-plant make the best Trees.
1868 C. Darwin II. xxvii. 365
Foreign pollen occasionally affects the mother-plant in a direct manner.
1928 19 263/1
This newly discovered action of pollen on the ovarial tissues of the mother plant.
1990 July 238/4
Peg down runners..into 15 cm (6 in) pots sunk into the ground around the mother plants.
† mother queller n. Obs. rare a matricide.
† mother quelling n. Obs. rare matricide.
mother root n. Bot. a primary or main root, from which lateral roots grow.
1615 H. Peacham sig. C3,
An Aprill Impe that late did shoot, From the warme bosome of its Mother root.
1664 J. Evelyn 3
Dropp'd, and disseminated amongst the..perplexities of the mother roots.
1727 S. J. 122
As being nourished from its own mother-Root.
1882 S. H. Vines tr. J. Sachs
The origin of lateral roots in a mother-root is always on the outside of its axial fibrovascular or plerome-cylinder.
1938 99 504
The pericycle of the mother root gave rise to the stele of the lateral root.
1993 153 126/1
Each new primordium will either stay at a very early stage..or continue its development and transform into a young rootlet which will bore through the mother-root epidermis.
mother skein n. Cell Biol. now disused the prophase configuration of chromosomes.
1889 30 171
We call this stage, with Flemming, the ‘Knäuel-Stadium’ (skein stage), or ‘spirem’, or ‘mother-skein’.
1906 41 187
The daughter chromosomes..are transformed into the mother skein of the second division rather rapidly.
† mother-spar n. Obs. the matrix of an ore.
1681 N. Grew iii. i. v. 306
The Mother-Spar of the Tin-Ore.
† mother spot n. Obs. a birthmark (cf. ).
1690 S. Blankaart 388
Macula Matricalis, the mother spot.
1823 19 Oct. 78/2
For nœvus maternus (vulgarly called mother spot) of the under lip.
1827 13 421
The conspicuous congenital malformations..are called nævi materni, to which the expressions, congenitæ notæ, mother spots,..are synonymous.
mother star n. Cell Biol. now disused the metaphase configuration of chromosomes; =
1887 21 150
Then the outer limbs of the loops break, leaving a lot of V-shaped filaments having their apices towards a common centre. This is the ‘mother-star’.
1898 18 Feb. 223/1
The centrosomes..fragment into a number of centrosome granules, one of which remains as the centrosomes of the later stages (mother star and later).
1904 37 201
The chromosomes in the stage of the mother star in vegetative cell division have mostly the figure of J-forming threads.
mother-starter n. a stock culture of starter bacteria, used in the production of various dairy products.
1906 G. L. McKay & C. Larsen 217
The sample which coagulates into a smooth uniform curd, and has a pleasant acid taste and smell is selected and used as a mother-starter.
1920 W. Clayton 48
The milk is soured by inoculation after pasteurization with suitable quantities of pure cultures, these in turn having been made from a specially-cared-for ‘mother-starter’.
1927 T. P. Hilditch 254
More of the pasteurized milk is then inoculated with about 3–6 per cent. of the mother-starter.
† mother stone n. Obs.
(a) a type of stone (not identified);
(b) a rock from which another rock is derived by structural or chemical change, a parent rock;
(c) the matrix of an ore or mineral.
1442 in R. Willis & J. W. Clark
Cariage of xviij lodis of modrestone.
1777 A. Young in A. Hunter et al.
ii. iv. 391
Its abounding with the stone, called, in Hertfordshire, Mother-stone, (a concretion of many small blue pebbles).
1794 R. Kirwan
Granite..is the mother-stone, by whose fusion basalt is produced.
1799 J. Robertson 17
Which some farmers call motherstone soil.
1855 J. R. Leifchild 91
Quartz generally prevails in the matrix (mother stone).
mother-substitute n. a person who or thing which takes the place of the mother.
1933 6 388
The teacher is apt to become a mother substitute, a father substitute, or a condensation of both.
1965 F. Sargeson vi. 173
Two young sparrow-legged ruffians..engaged in selling my mother-substitute a large trolley-load of empty bottles.
1990 67 351
Jane Hawking examined the character of Celestina as a mother-substitute.
† mother suppository n. Obs. a vaginal pessary.
1578 H. Lyte tr. R. Dodoens i. lxxxviii. 130
Pessarie (whiche is a mother suppositorie).
1597 J. Gerard i. 145
Vsed in maner of a pessarie or mother suppositorie.
mother surrogate n. a mother-substitute.
1932 6 137
Some one..should be ready to assume the function of big brother or sister, or of father or mother surrogate.
1959 21 Aug. 422/3
We took the calculated risk of constructing and using inanimate mother surrogates rather than real mothers.
1985 G. Paley 87
We all require a mother or mother-surrogate to fix our pillows.
†(a) something which symbolically marks the beginning of a body, organization, etc. (in quot. with reference to the Augsburg Confession) (obs.);
(b) (as a term in various academic disciplines) a thing which stands as a symbol of the mother or of motherhood.
1852 S. S. Schucker 203
To this substantial recognition of the mother symbol of Protestantism, the General synod still adheres.
1926 59 191
The tree is a mother-symbol.
1956 R. F. C. Hull tr. Jung Symbols of Transformation in V. 301
At this stage the mother-symbol..points towards the unconscious as the creative matrix of the future.
1987 102 299
One who relates to her as a woman rather than an idealized mother-symbol.
† mother-thought n. Obs. rare =
1861 J. L. Motley
As to the mother-thought of the book, it is to me original.
† mother-thyme n. Obs. mother of thyme.
i. iv. 254
Take..Agrimony, Mother-thyme,..Roman Wormwood, Carduus Benedictus.
mother tincture n. Homoeopathy an undiluted tincture of a drug.
1842 F. Black vi. 72
The alcohol..employed for the preparation of tinctures (mother tinctures, as they are called) should be nearly anhydrous.
1880 Nov. 479/2
To put the mother-tincture through thirty decimal dilutions.
1902 XXIX. 312/2
The pure tinctures are denominated ‘mother tinctures’.
1983 B. Inglis & R. West 71
Once the ‘mother tincture’ has been diluted to the required potency and ‘succussed’ (shaken up), a few drops are introduced into a small bottle.
2000 May 17/3
Extracts of the chosen ingredient are dissolved in a mixture of alcohol and water..then strained to make what is called the ‘mother tincture’.
mother wasp n. now rare a queen wasp (in quot. , interpreted as a male wasp).
1609 C. Butler iv. sig. D7,
In their last brood, which is in Scorpio..they haue..drones or male-wasps..and mother-wasps.
1679 M. Rusden 4
The Male among Wasps, which some call the Mother-Wasp, stings more venemously than the common Wasp doth.
1692 J. Ray
One great Mother-wasp..lying hid in some hollow Tree, or other Latibulum.
1886 5 Feb. 128/2
The mother-wasp..knows the kind of an egg she is to lay.
1927 F. Balfour-Browne viii. 188
The mother wasp burrows in the ground or in decaying vegetable material or rotten wood in search of the larvæ of chafer beetles.
1988 57 164
Eggs are laid, and larvae develop, in small groups on the outside of hosts which have been paralysed by the mother wasp.
1651 J. French 61
The Mother-water commonly called Hystericall Water is made thus.
They let it run through Pipes into the Kettles, adding to it half as much Mother-water, which is that water, that remains after boyling of the hardened Coperas.
1758 A. Reid tr. P. J. Macquer I. 245
All saline solutions in general, after having yielded a certain quantity of crystals, grow thick, and refuse to part with any more, though they still contain much Salt. They are called Mother-waters.
1854 J. Scoffern in 14
To clear away from any crystalline product the mother-water.
1883 R. Haldane 2nd Ser. 350/1
The mother-liquor is conducted through the pipe for mother-water to the precipitators.
† mother-wool n. Obs. rare wool from the back and neck of a fleece.
1728 E. Chambers at Wool,
The French and English usually separate each Fleece into three Sorts; viz. 1. Mother-Wool, which is that of the Back and Neck.
mother yaw n. Med. a large, persistent skin lesion in an endemic treponematosis; esp. the primary lesion of yaws (cf. ; ).
1822 J. M. Good II. 675
The master-fungus being named [in St Domingo] mama-pian, or mother-yaw.
1890 J. S. Billings ii. 107/1
Mamanpian, the initial growth in yaws; the mother-yaw.
1996 G. C. Cook
After an average incubation period of 21 days the initial or primary lesion (‘mother yaw’) appears at the site of entry of the organisms.
ˈmotherwise adv. in a motherly fashion.
1890 R. Le Gallienne 52
She smiles on them motherwise.
1910 W. J. Locke xix. 241
With strong shapely arms that had as yet only held me motherwise.
1914 W. J. Locke x. 142
And if a woman of that age cannot fall in love with a boy sweetly mother-wise, what is the good of her?
a1974 L. Durrell
Will you remember it and, mother-wise Thank me in these chill after-days When I am empty-handed?
m - u - th - ə
|m||m||as in mine (main stress)|
|ʌ||u||as in butter, upset|
|ð||th||as in then, bathe|
|ə||ə||as in another (schwa)|
m - ə - th - er
|m||m||as in mine (main stress)|
|ə||ə||as in another (schwa)|
|ð||th||as in then, bathe|
|ər||er||as in stirring, runner|
|d||d||as in dig|
|ð||th||as in then, bathe|
|r||r||as in run, terrier|
|ər||er||as in stirring, runner|
|ʌ||u||as in butter, upset|
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This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, December 2002).
In this entry:
- artificial mother
- be mother, to
- does your mother know you're out?
- every mother's daughter
- give (a person) one's mother for a maid, to
- God's Mother
- hard mother
- have too much of one's mother's blessing, to
- holy mother
- just like mother makes
- learn at one's mother's knee, to
- Modern Mother of Presidents
- mother arms
- Mother Bell
- mother cat
- mother cell
- mother clove
- mother coal
- mother colony
- mother complex
- mother cow
- mother cult
- mother dialect
- Mother English
- mother figure
- mother fixation
- Mother General
- mother heart
- mother hen
- mother house
- mother image
- mother imago
- mother kingdom
- mother liquid
- mother liquor
- mother mark
- Mother Midnight
- mother mould
- mother nation
- Mother Nature
- Mother Nature
- mother of —
- mother of all ——
- mother of amethyst
- mother of anchovies
- mother of a thousand
- mother of cloves
- mother of coal
- Mother of Commonwealths
- mother of emeralds
- Mother of Floods
- Mother of God
- Mother of God
- Mother of Heaven
- Mother of mercy
- Mother of Mercy
- mother of millions
- mother of months
- Mother of Moses
- Mother of Parliaments
- Mother of Presidents
- Mother of States
- Mother of States and Statesmen
- mother of the herrings
- mother of the maids (of honour)
- mother of the wood
- mother of thyme
- mother of yaws
- mother plane
- mother plant
- Mother Prioress
- mother queller
- mother quelling
- mother root
- mothers and fathers
- mother's bairn
- mother's blessing
- mother's boy
- mother's darling
- mother's daughter
- mother sheep
- mother's help
- mother skein
- mother's knee
- mother's little helper
- mother's mark
- mothers' meeting
- mother speech
- mother's pet
- mother spot
- mother's ruin
- mother's side
- mother star
- mother stone
- Mothers' Union
- Mother Superior
- mother suppository
- mother surrogate
- mother tincture
- mother vein
- Mother Vicaress
- mother wasp
- mother yaw
- my mother!
- on (also by, †of) the (also his, her, etc.) mother's side
- our first mother
- soft (also †dear, †mild, †near) mother
- some mothers do 'ave 'em
- suffocation (also rising, fit) of the mother
- your mother
- your mother!
In other dictionaries:
- My entries(1)
- moth, v.11624
- moth, v.21693
- mothball, n. and adj.1892
- mothball, v.1926
- mothe, adj.?c1450
- moth-eat, v.1576
- moth-eaten, adj.c1400
- mothed, adj.1835
- mothen, adj.1580
- mother, n.1 (and int.)eOE
- mother, n.2c1485
- mother, v.1a1425
- mother, v.21697
- motherage, n.a1591
- mother-and-baby, adj.1965
- mother bairn, n.c1225
- motherboard, n.1971
- mother brother, n.1513
- Mother Bunch, n.1600
- Mother Carey, n.1767
- mother child, n.OE
- mother–child, adj.1916
- mother church, n.OE
- mother city, n.?a1425
- mother country, n.1567
- mothercraft, n.1883
- mother daughter, n.a1500
- mother–daughter, adj.1913
- motherdom, n.a1638
- mother earth, n.1568
- mothered, adj.11669
- mothered, adj.21697
- motheree, n.1938
- motherer, n.1890
- motherese, n.1975
- motherferyer, n.1946
- motherfuck, n. and int.1964
- motherfuck, v.1965
- motherfucker, n. (an...1918
- motherfucking, adj. ...1889