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Definition of Mother

(noun) A female parent of a child.

Example of Mother

Mother Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: moth·er

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /mUHTH-uhr/
  • British English – /mUHTH-uh/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈməðər/
  • British English – /ˈmʌðə/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: mothers
  • A mother-in-law is a mother by marriage (affinity) instead of blood (consanguinity); the mother of your spouse.
  • A single mother (single-mother) is a female raising children without a partner.
  • A stepmother (step-mother) is the non-birth mother of an individual.
  • A surrogate mother bears a child for another individual.
  • An individual’s native language is called a mother tongue and a native country is called a mother-country or motherland (mother-land).
  • The male equivalent of a mother is a father.
  • Matricide is killing one’s mother and filicide is killing one’s children.
  • Maternal means relating to an individual’s mother. A maternal aunt, maternal uncle, maternal cousin, maternal grandfather, and maternal grandmother are relatives from your father’s side. And, maternalism is treating an individual in a motherly manner or maternalistically.
  • Informally called:
    • ma
    • mama
    • mammy
    • mom
    • momma
    • mommy
    • mum
    • mummy
    • old woman
  • Also called: female parent
  • A mother (verb) motherschild by (verb) mothering during (noun) motherhood and is (adjective) mother-like or (adjective) mothery and (adverb) motherly exhibits (noun) motherliness.

Related Quotation

  • “Since the effective kinship unit is normally the conjugal family, the child’s emotional attachments to kin are confined to relatively few persons instead of being distributed more widely. Especially important, perhaps, is the fact that no other adult woman has a role remotely similar to that of the mother. Hence the average intensity of affective involvement in family relations is likely to be high. Secondly, the child’s relations outside the family are only to a small extent ascribed. Both in the play group and in the school he must to a large extent ‘find his own level’ in competition with others. Hence the psychological significance of his security within the family is heightened” (Parsons 1943:32).

Related Video

Additional Information

Related Terms


Parsons, Talcott. 1943. “The Kinship System of the Contemporary United States.” American Anthropologist 45(1):22–38. doi:10.1525/aa.1943.45.1.02a00030.

Cite the Definition of Mother

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “mother.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 23, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/mother/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

mother. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/mother/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “mother.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 23, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/mother/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“mother.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 23 May. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/mother/>.