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Pronunciation (US): 

 Dictionary entry overview: What does maternal mean? 

MATERNAL (adjective)
  The adjective MATERNAL has 4 senses:

1. characteristic of a mother
2. relating to or derived from one's mother
3. relating to or characteristic of or befitting a parent
4. related on the mother's side

  Familiarity information: MATERNAL used as an adjective is uncommon.

 Dictionary entry details 

MATERNAL (adjective)

Sense 1maternal [BACK TO TOP]


Characteristic of a mother

Context example:

warm maternal affection for her guest


maternalistic (showing maternal instincts)

motherlike (suggestive of or acting like a mother)

motherly (befitting a mother; warm and nurturing)


matriarchal (characteristic of a matriarchy)


maternal quality; maternalism; maternity; motherliness (the quality of having or showing the tenderness and warmth and affection of or befitting a mother)


paternal (characteristic of a father)

Sense 2maternal [BACK TO TOP]


Relating to or derived from one's mother

Classified under:

Relational adjectives (pertainyms)

Context example:

maternal genes


mother (a woman who has given birth to a child (also used as a term of address to your mother))

Sense 3maternal [BACK TO TOP]


Relating to or characteristic of or befitting a parent


parental; maternal; paternal

Context example:

parental guidance

Sense 4maternal [BACK TO TOP]


Related on the mother's side


enate; enatic; maternal

Context example:

my maternal grandmother


related (connected by kinship, common origin, or marriage)

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