AskDefine | Define motherhood

Dictionary Definition

motherhood n : the kinship relation between an offspring and the mother [syn: maternity]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. the state of being a mother
  2. mothers as a group


the state of being a mother
mothers as a group

Related terms

Extensive Definition

"Mom", "Mum", and "Mommy" redirect here. For other uses, see Mom (disambiguation), Mum (disambiguation) and Mommy (disambiguation).
A mother is a biological and/or social female parent of an offspring. In the case of a mammal such as a human, the biological mother gestates a fertilized ovum, which is called first an embryo, and then a fetus. This gestation occurs in the mother's uterus from conception until the fetus is sufficiently developed to be born. The mother then goes into labor and gives birth. Once the child is born, the mother produces milk in a process called lactation to feed the child; often the mother's breast milk is the child's sole nourishment for the first year or more of the child's life.
The title mother is often given to a woman other than the biological parent, if it is she who fulfills the social role. This is most commonly either an adoptive mother or a stepmother (the biologically unrelated wife of a child's father). Currently, with advances in reproductive technologies, the function of biological motherhood can be split between the genetic mother (who provides the ovum) and the gestational mother (who carries the pregnancy), and in theory neither might be the social mother (the one who brings up the child).
Mothers have historically fulfilled the primary role in the raising of children, but since the late 20th century, the role of the father in child care has been given greater prominence in most Western countries.
The experience of motherhood varies greatly depending upon location. The organization Save the Children has ranked the countries of the world, and found that Scandinavian countries are the best places to be a mother, whereas countries in sub-Saharan Africa are the worst. A mother in the bottom 10 countries is over 750 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a mother in the top 10 countries, and a mother in the bottom 10 countries is 28 times more likely to see her child die before reaching his or her first birthday.

Synonyms and translations

Familiar or colloquial terms for mother in English are:
  • mom or mommy, in most of North America (especially the U.S.). It is used widely in the West Midlands, in the UK.
  • mum or mummy, is used in the UK, Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Ma, Mam or Mammy is used in Ireland and sometimes in the UK.
  • "mama" is used in many countries, but is considered a Spanish form of "mother"
  • In many other languages, similar pronunciations apply; mama in Polish and Slovak, māma in Mandarin Chinese, máma in Czech, maman in French, mamma in Italian, or mãe in Portuguese. Mama, borrowed from the English, is in common use in Japan. In Hebrew the word is eema (אמא), and in many south Asian cultures and the Middle East the mother is known as amma or oma or ammi or "ummi", or variations thereof. Many times these terms denote affection or a maternal role in a child's life.

Legendary & mythological mothers


motherhood in Afrikaans: Moeder
motherhood in Arabic: أم
motherhood in Aragonese: Mai
motherhood in Aymara: Tayka
motherhood in Bengali: মা
motherhood in Bosnian: Majka
motherhood in Breton: Mamm
motherhood in Bulgarian: Майка
motherhood in Catalan: Mare
motherhood in Czech: Matka
motherhood in German: Mutter
motherhood in Estonian: Ema
motherhood in Spanish: Madre
motherhood in Esperanto: Patrino
motherhood in French: Mère
motherhood in Korean: 어머니
motherhood in Italian: Madre
motherhood in Kannada: ತಾಯಿ
motherhood in Kinyarwanda: Mama
motherhood in Latin: Mater
motherhood in Lithuanian: Mama
motherhood in Ligurian: Moæ
motherhood in Malagasy: Reny
motherhood in Malayalam: അമ്മ
motherhood in Marathi: आई
motherhood in Dutch: Moeder
motherhood in Dutch Low Saxon: Moor (meens)
motherhood in Newari: आमा
motherhood in Japanese: 母親
motherhood in Norwegian: Mor
motherhood in Norwegian Nynorsk: Mor
motherhood in Portuguese: Mãe
motherhood in Romanian: Mamă
motherhood in Simple English: Mother
motherhood in Slovak: Matka (biológia)
motherhood in Serbian: Мајка
motherhood in Finnish: Äiti
motherhood in Swedish: Mor
motherhood in Tamil: தாய்
motherhood in Telugu: తల్లి
motherhood in Thai: แม่
motherhood in Cherokee: ᎤᏂᏥ
motherhood in Turkish: Anne
motherhood in Ukrainian: Мати
motherhood in Yiddish: מוטער
motherhood in Contenese: 阿媽
motherhood in Chinese: 母親

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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