From the second edition (1989):
mother, n.1
(ˈmʌðə(r)) Forms: 1 móder, -or, -ur, (módder), dat. méd(d)er, mœ́der, 3 moderr, (? moðer), pl. modren, 4–5 modire, modre, modur, modyr(e, mooder, 5 modure, 6 moeder, mothir, Sc. muddir, muder, 8–9 Sc. mither, 5– mother. [Com. Teut. (but wanting in Gothic) and Indo-Germanic: OE. módor = OFris. môdar, OS. môdar, muodar (Du. moeder, LG. moder), OHG. muotar, -er (MHG. muoter, mod.G. mutter), ON. móðer (Sw., Da. moder):—OTeut. *mōđar- (cons.-stem):—pre-Teut. *māˈter-, cogn. w. Skr. *mātṛ, mātar-, Gr. µτηρ-, µᾱτέρ- (Doric), µήτηρ, µητέρ- (Attic and Ionic), L. māter, OSl. mati, OIrish māthir.
As in the case of father, the substitution of th for the earlier d dates from the beginning of the 16th c., though the pronunciation with (ð) probably existed earlier. The occasional occurrence of the spelling moþer in the 14th c. (e.g. in the Göttingen MS. of the Cursor Mundi) has prob. no phonetic significance, being due to association with words like broþer, oþer, which in fact occur in the immediate context of several of the examples. The development of OE. ó to mod.E. (ʌ) (through uː, u, ʊ) is normal in the case of words in -ther, -der: cf. brother, other, rudder. In OE. the genitive sing. normally coincided in form with the nom., and many instances of the uninflected genitive occur in ME. and early mod.E. (see also 15b). The genitive móderes is common in the Northumbrian gospels (10th c.).]


I. 1. a. A female parent; a woman who has given birth to a child. Correlative with son or daughter.
As with other terms of relationship, my is (exc. in poetic language) commonly omitted before mother used vocatively. On the other hand, in the 3rd person the use of mother for my mother is colloquial and familiar; in the middle of the 19th c. it was regarded as vulgar, or at least as unfashionable, but has now regained currency.


Mother is also used colloquially by a husband addressing or referring to his wife.

c1050 Voc. in Wr.-Wülcker 450/25 Mater, anes cildes modor. Materfamilias, manira cilda modur. c1200 Ormin 168 He beþ full off Haliȝ Gast Ȝet in his moderr wambe. a1225 Leg. Kath. 931 Of his feader soð godd, & of his moder soð mon. c1250 Gen. & Ex. 1434 Ysaac‥wunede ðor in ðoȝt and care, for moderes dead and sondes care. 1340 Hampole Pr. Consc. 447 He was consayved synfully With-in his awen moder body. 1340 Ayenb. 67 Þis zenne is ine uele maneres ase‥ine children aye hare uaderes and hare modren. c1386 Chaucer Doctor's T. 93 Ye fadres and ye moodres. c1425 Wyntoun Cron. ii. vi. 488 And thare modyre banys ta. c1511 1st Eng. Bk. Amer. (Arb.) Introd. 33/1 The[y] ete theym all rawe, both there one fader or moeder. 1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 13 As infantes or tender babes newe borne of theyr mother. 1556 Chron. Gr. Friars (Camden) 25 The qwenys moder dicessyd. 1588 Shakes. L.L.L. ii. i. 255 Then was Venus like her mother, for her father is but grim. 1607 —— Cor. iv. i. 15 Nay Mother. Ibid. 27 My Mother, you wot well [etc.]. c1633 Milton Arcades 22 Cybele, Mother of a hundred gods. c1702 C. Mather Magn. Chr. vi. ii. (1852) 356 She lived to be a mother of several children. 1790 Cowper Receipt Mother's Picture 21 My mother! when I learn'd that thou wast dead. c1830 T. H. Bayly Song, ‘We met'twas in a crowd’, Oh, thou hast been the cause of this anguish, My mother!
1855 Dickens Dorrit (1857) i. ii. 13 Mother (my usual name for Mrs. Meagles) began to cry so, that it was necessary to take her out. ‘What's the matter, Mother?’ said I‥‘you are frightening Pet.’‥ ‘Yes, I know that, Father,’ says Mother. 1898 J. D. Brayshaw Slum Silhouettes 156 ‘Sit yer down, mother,’ said Joe, taking his seat at the head of the table. 1932 A. Christie Peril at End House v. 68 Mother and I‥feel it's only neighbourly to do what we can. 1970 P. Carlon Souvenir ii. 35 Don't you loathe the way old folks call each other Mother and Dad?


b. Said of animals.
Rare in ME. and early mod.E., being superseded by dam n.2 2, which afterwards became restricted to quadrupeds, and is now rarely used exc. of mares.

a900 Laws Alfred xvi, if mon cu oððe stodmyran forstele & folan oððe cealf ofadrife, forelde mid scill. & þa moder be hiora weorðe. 1382 Wyclif Exod. xxiii. 19 Thow shalt not seethe a kydde in the mylk of his moder. [So all later versions.] 1632 Lithgow Trav. ix. 380 Young Chickens, which are not hatched by their mothers, but in the Fernace. 1692 R. L'Estrange Fables ccxxi. 193 Pray Mother (says the Young Crab) do but set the Example your self, and I'll follow ye. 1868 Tennyson Lucretius 100 And lambs are glad Nosing the mother's udder.


c. Mother of God, God's Mother (= Gr. Θεοτόκος): a frequent designation of the Virgin Mary in Catholic use.

c1122 O.E. Chron. an. 994 (Laud MS.) Se halie Godes modor. c1410 Hoccleve Mother of God 1 Modir of god, and virgyn undeffouled. c1440 Gesta Rom. lxxxv. 405 (Add. MS.) That blessyd ladie, goddis modre. 1483 Cath. Angl. 161/1 Goddes modyr; mater dei, theoticus. 1591 Shakes. 1 Hen. VI, i. ii. 78. 1898 W. K. Johnson Terra Tenebr. 105 Mother of God, we here enthrone Thee, thy slain Son, within thy house.


d. abstr. (a) Womanish qualities inherited from the mother. (b) That which is characteristic of motherhood; maternal affection.

1599 Shakes. Hen. V, iv. vi. 31 But I had not so much of man in mee, And all my mother came into my eyes, And gaue me vp to teares. 1725 Pope Odyss. xi. 188 Strait all the mother in her soul awakes. 1747 Richardson Clarissa I. 121, I thought, by the glass before me, I saw the mother in her soften'd eye cast towards me. 1807 J. Barlow Columb. iii. 186 Thrice have those lovely lips the victim prest, And all the mother torn that tender breast. 1847 M. Howitt Ballads 33 The mother in my soul was strong. 1884 Tennyson Becket v. ii, Look! how this love, this mother, runs thro' all The world God made.


e. In extended sense: A female ancestress. Now rare exc. in our first mother.

c1050 Suppl. Ælfric's Gloss. in Wr.-Wülcker 173/11 Proauuia, þridde moder. a1300 Cursor M. 934 Eue sco hight eue fra þat dai, þat moder of mani es for to sai. 14‥ Nom. in Wr.-Wülcker 689/41 Hec proava, the forne modyre. 1611 Bible Gen. xvii. 16 Yea I wil blesse her, and she shalbe a mother of nations. 1667 Milton P.L. xi. 159 Whence Haile to thee Eve rightly call'd, Mother of all Mankind.


f. Applied to a stepmother or a mother-in-law.

c1546 Edw. VI Let. to Q. Cath. Parr in Ellis Orig. Lett. Ser. i. II. 131 Most honorable and entirely beloued mother. 1589 Reg. Privy Council Scot. IV. 444 His Hienes, invited be his darrest moder the Quene of Denmarkis‥letters. 1859 Tennyson Geraint 779 O my new mother, be not wroth or grieved At thy new son, for my petition to her.


g. Proverbs and proverbial phrases. †to take one's (own) mother for a maid: app. orig. intended to exemplify extreme simplicity. to have too much of his mother's blessing: said of a youth who is unreasonably prudish or scrupulous. does your mother know you're out? (slang): a jeering question addressed to one who shows excessive simplicity or juvenile presumption. (just) like mother makes (or used to make) (it): having the qualities of home cooking; exactly to one's taste; also fig.

[1598 Shakes. Merry W. ii. ii. 40 Fal. Good-morrow, good-wife. Qui. Not so and't please your worship. Fal. Good maid, then. Qui. Ile be sworne, As my mother was the first houre I was borne.] 1606 L. Bryskett Civ. Life 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. 1664 Cotton Scarron. i. 48 So smug she [Venus] was, and so array'd He took his Mother for a Maid. 16‥ MS. Ashm. 36 lf. 112 If euor Ice doe come heare againe, Ice zaid, Chil give thee my Mother vor a maid. 1838 ? T. Martin in Bentley's Miscell. III. 416 And she asked me ‘How's your mother? Does she know that you are out?’ 1842 Barham Ingol. Leg., Misadv. Margate, ‘Sir, does your mother know that you are out?’ 1919 Wodehouse Damsel in Distress 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 Contemp. Eng. 52 The notice outside some eating-houses, beef-steak pie like mother makes it! 1963 Wodehouse Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves v. 39 Its facade, its spreading grounds‥and what not were all just like Mother makes. 1975 D. Clark Premedicated Murder iv. 68 Just like my old mother used to make. A bit of candied peel in a bun can't be beat.


h. Used as an exclamation of surprise, dismay, etc.; freq. my mother!

1869 ‘Mark Twain’ Innoc. Abr. 52 Twenty-five cigars, at 100 reis, 2500 reis! Oh, my sainted mother! 1909 Sat. Even. Post 22 May 6/3 ‘Gee, what a peach of an idea!’ ‘Oh, mother!’ 1959 N. Mailer Advts. for Myself (1961) 93 He roared with laughter now. ‘Oh, my mother.’ 1972 C. Achebe Girls at War 107 ‘Plane!’ screamed his boy from the kitchen. ‘My mother!’ screamed Gladys.


i. mothers and fathers: a game in which children act out the roles of mother and father.

1903 G. R. Sims Living London xxxiii. 271/1 Sometimes‥they [sc. the boys] will join the girls in a mimic domestic drama of ‘Mothers and Fathers’. 1969 [see infant-school]. 1972 J. Wilson Hide & Seek vii. 130 Shall we play mothers and fathers with our dolls?


j. Ellipt. for mother-fucker. U.S. slang.

[1948 Manone & Vandervoort Trumpet on Wing 70 ‘I'll be a motheree if I'll wear any damn bedpan intern's suit,’ I screamed.] 1955 S. Whitmore Solo iii. 42 Jaeger said,‥‘He's‥so weak now, he can't blow note one.’ ‘Hell, this mother never could,’ Alfred laughed. 1959 N. Mailer Advts. for Myself (1961) 358 Old K, he's nothing but a mother. 1967 Melody Maker 14 Jan. 8 Mother, term of abuse. As in ‘You're a mother, baby!’ 1972 Sunday Times 7 May 10/6 ‘Man we must just get out of here before those mothers get us all‥,’ he shouted at me. 1973 New Yorker 17 Feb. 62/2 Out the parachute, out the radio, change the c.g., and the mother will go. 1975 N.Y. Times 8 Sept. 33/2 ‘You mothers! I ain't been out five minutes and I just got outta the pen this morning!’ Her name is Judy, and although she is white, she talks black jive.


2. fig. Applied to things more or less personified, with reference either to a metaphorical giving birth, to the protecting care exercised by a mother, or to the affectionate reverence due to a mother. a. Said of a quality, condition, event, etc., that gives rise to some other.

c1386 Chaucer Pard. T. 263 Hasard is verray mooder of lesynges, And of deceite and cursed forswerynges. c1449 Pecock Repr. v. xiv. 555 Loue to money‥is moder of passing myche yuel. 1463–4 Rolls of Parlt. V. 507/1 Ydelnes, moder of all vyces. 1573 New Custom i. i, That I Ignorance am the mother of true deuotion. 1597 Hooker Eccl. Pol. v. xv. §1 The mother of such magnificence (they thinke) is but only a proude ambitious desire to be spoken of farre and wide. 1611 B. Jonson Catiline iii. ii, For 'tis despaire that is the mother of madnesse. 1766 Franklin Let. Wks. 1887 III. 463, I congratulate you on the repeal of that mother of mischiefs, the Stamp Act. 1799 Hull Advertiser 21 Dec. 4/2 The‥maxim that ‘freight is the mother of wages’. 1824 Lamb Elia Ser. ii. Blakesmoor in H—shire, The solitude of childhood is not so much the mother of thought.


b. Said of the earth. See also mother earth.

a1000 Charms i. 69 Hal wes þu, folde, fira modor. c1250 Gen. & Ex. 122 Of euerilc ouȝt, of euerilc sed, Was erðe mad moder of sped. 1600 Surflet Country Farm i. iv. 13 As for the earth‥it beareth all manner of corne, fruits,‥and other things,‥and heereupon old writers haue iustly giuen vnto it the due name of mother. 1625 Bacon Ess., Riches (Arb.) 235 Our Great Mothers Blessing, the Earths. 1667 Milton P.L. v. 338 Whatever Earth all~bearing Mother yeilds In India East or West. 1822 Shelley tr. Calderon's Mag. Prodig. ii. 79 O Beloved earth, dear mother. 1821 Lamb Elia Ser. i. Old Benchers, But the common mother of us all in no long time after received him gently into her lap. 1876 [see motherly 3].


c. Said of the church: see church n. 8.
Mother Church is either treated as a quasi-proper name (though initial capitals are not always used) or preceded by a possessive pronoun.

1377 Langl. P. Pl. B. xvi. 197 Children of charite & holicherche þe moder. c1460 Wisdom 992 in Macro Plays 68 Now haue ye for-yeffnes þat were fylyde, To prey yowur modyr chyrche of her proteccion. 1539 Pery in Ellis Orig. Lett. Ser. ii. II. 145 According to the lawdebwll usse and costom of owr holly mother Chwrche. 1630 Yaxlee Morbus & Antid. To Rdr., The obedient sonne of my deare Mother the true Church of England. 1695 J. Edwards Perfect. Script. 589 A learned and pious son of our mother. 1726 Ayliffe Parergon 22 The Good of Mother Church, as well as that of Civil Society, renders a Judicial Practice in criminal Cases entirely necessary. 1784 Cowper Task ii. 576 So we, no longer taught By monitors that mother church supplies [etc.]. 1833 Tracts for Times No. 13. 6 The mysterious time of Christmas approaching, our Mother, with true parental anxiety, takes up‥the thread of her instructions anew.


d. Said of a country, city, etc., in relation to its natives; spec. in Mother Russia.

[1382 Wyclif Gal. iv. 26: literally from Vulg.] c1550 Bale K. Johan (Camden) 66 O Englande, Englande! showe now thyselfe a mother, Thy people wyll els be slayne here without nomber. 1593 Shakes. Rich. II, i. iii. 307 Then Englands ground farewell: sweet soil adieu, My Mother, and my Nurse. 1699 Rhode Isl. Col. Rec. (1858) III. 374 We being wholly ruled and governed by the good and wholesome [laws] of our Mother, the kingdom of England. 1726 Swift Gulliver ii. vii, I have always borne that laudable Partiality to my own Country, which [etc.]‥: I would hide the Frailties and Deformities of my political Mother. 1786 Burns Ernest Cry & Pr. Postscr. vii, Scotland, my auld, respected Mither! 1851 Borrow Lavengro xvi, ‘What horse is that?’‥‘The best in mother England’, said the very old man. 1901 Henley Hawthorn & Lavender, etc. 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! 1966 J. Bingham Double Agent v. 71, I love Russia.‥ Great Mother Russia. 1972 P. Ruell Red Christmas xv. 153 Came as quite a shock to them when they realised we weren't doing it all for Mother Russia. 1973 D. Bagley Tightrope Men xxiv. 164 ‘See that tower over there?’‥‘A Russian observation tower. That's Mother Russia.’


e. Said of one's university. Cf. Alma Mater.

1647–8 Wood Life 15 Feb. (O.H.S.) I. 140 Who fed with the papp of Aristotle at twenty or thirtie yeares of age, and suck at the duggs of their mother the University. 1721 Amherst Terræ Fil. Ded. (1754) 5, I had much rather have your approbation than your censure, and enjoy the favour of my dear mother.


f. Applied to Nature, and occasionally to other personified abstractions represented as protecting or controlling powers.

1601 R. Johnson Kingd. & Commw. (1603) 35 Whereas mother Nature hath interlaced so riotously her golden and siluer veins in the bosom and wombe of Peru. 1617 Moryson Itin. i. 181 Experience, the mother of fooles. 1764 Goldsm. Trav. 81 Nature, a mother kind alike to all. 1813 Shelley Q. Mab. vi. 198 Necessity! thou mother of the world! 1866 M. Arnold Thyrsis xviii, And now in happier air Wandering with the great Mother's train divine.


g. Said of a city, country, institution from which another originates as an offshoot.

1560 J. Daus tr. Sleidane's Comm. 280b, The churche of Rome, mother and maistres of al others. 1838 Thirlwall Greece II. xii. 106 It [Sinope] became in its turn the mother of several flourishing cities.


h. In physical sense: The material source of a substance; also, the parent stock on which anything grows, or the main stem or channel from which others branch off.

c1384 Chaucer H. Fame 1983 Auenture, That is the moder of tydynges, As the see of welles and sprynges. 1604 E. G[rimstone] D'Acosta's Hist. Indies v. xviii. 378 Saying, that these shells were daughters of the sea, the mother of all waters. 1611 Cotgr., Artere aorte, the great Arterie, mother Arterie, or mother of arteries. 1668 Culpepper & Cole Barthol. Anat. Man. i. iii. 306 All the Veins of the whole Body are referred unto two as their Mothers. 1675 Evelyn Terra (1676) 44 Water‥was by some thought to be the Mother of Earth. 1681 Grew Musæum iii. i. iv. 283 Another clear Crystal, growing on a Semiperspicuous Mother. 1721 Bradley Philos. Acc. Wks. Nat. 41 The fruit of the Indian Fig‥will strike Root and become a Plant as perfect as the mother it was taken from. 1868 Lockyer Elem. Astron. iii. §15 (1879) 85 Aqueous vapour is the great mother of clouds.


3. A woman who exercises control like that of a mother, or who is looked up to as a mother. a. One who has religious authority or dignity. Often applied to the Virgin Mary (cf. 1c).

c1366 Chaucer A.B.C. 133 Mooder, of whom oure merci gan to springe Beth ye my juge & eek my soules leche. c1375 Sc. Leg. Saints xviii. (Egipciane) 307 Spirituale modyr, quhat-sa þu be, for godis sak schau þe to me! 1563 Winȝet Four Scoir Thre Quest. Wks. (S.T.S.) I. 73 The glorius Virgine, the Mothir. a1711 Ken Psyche Poet. Wks. 1721 IV. 165 Sophronia‥Who of her sex the guidance nicely skill'd,‥Heav'n for their Ghostly Mother had design'd. 1868 Sir H. W. Baker in Hymns A. & M. App. No. 376 Shall we not love thee, Mother dear, Whom Jesus loves so well?


b. A title given to the head or superior of a female religious community.

1603 Shakes. Meas. for M. i. iv. 86, I will about it strait, No longer staying, but to giue the Mother Notice of my affaire. 1611 Beaum. & Fl. Philaster ii. ii, The reuerend mother sent me word, They would all be for the garden. 1798 J. Baillie De Monfort v. vi, Freberg [to Abbess] And you have wisely done, my rev'rend mother. 1820 Scott Abbot xii, They call me Lady Abbess, or Mother at the least, who address me. 1883 Mrs. Craik in Longm. Mag. Jan. 306, I could understand how the Mother was just the woman to be head of a community like this. 1907 Athenæum 2 Nov. 545/3 The astute yet saintly mother-superior.


c. mother of the maids: the head of the maids of honour in a Royal household. Obs.

1577–8 New Yr.'s Gifts in Nichols Progr. Eliz. (1823) II. 88 To Mrs. Hyde, Mother of the Mades. 1633 Brome North. Lass i. iv, She might ha' been Mother o' the Maids. 1682 Luttrell Brief Rel. (1857) I. 159 The lady Sanderson, mother of the maids of honour to her majestie, was interred in the abby. 1711 Hearne Collect. (O.H.S.) III. 132 Mrs. *** Mother of the Maids to K. James IIds Queen.


d. In occasional uses.

1897 Daily News 13 July 8/7 Separate cottage buildings, each under the charge of a person called a ‘mother’, had been established [as homes for girls].


e. Colloq. phr. to be mother: to serve out portions of food or drink; spec. to pour out tea.

[1926 G. B. Shaw Glimpse of Reality in Translations & Tomfooleries 184 Let us get to work at the supper. You shall be the mother of the family and give us our portions, Giulietta.] 1958 ‘J. Brogan’ Cummings Report ii. 17 We'll go and have tea, and you be Mother. 1967 J. Porter Dover & Unkindest Cut iv. 41 MacGregor, hearing the tea cups rattling outside‥opened the door again. ‘Shall I be mother, sir?’ 1974 J. Mitchell Death & Bright Water xx. 243 ‘Shall I be mother?’ Callan nodded, and Blythe's strong fingers popped the cork, the champagne foamed into the glasses.


f. The female owner of a pet, esp. of a dog. colloq.

1924 Galsworthy White Monkey 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 Pigeon Pie ix. 139 Many mothers of dogs had fetched their little ones home.


4. a. A term of address for an elderly woman of the lower class. Also used (instead of Mrs.) as a prefix to the surname of such a person.

c1386 Chaucer Wife's T. 149 My leeue mooder, quod this knyght [etc.]. 1476 Paston Lett. III. 148 That owther Syme or Mother Brown maye deliver it me to morow. 1496–7 Rec. St. Mary at Hill (1905) 34 Item, a Towell of the gyfte of Mother Ienet. 1533 J. Heywood Play of Love Ciijb, Mother quoth I how doth my dere darlyng. 1588 Nottingham Rec. IV. 221 At one wyddoez house named Mother Jane. 1593 Tell-troth's N.Y. Gift (1876) 13 While mother trot and her fellowes were descanting on others honesty. 1847 C. Brontë J. Eyre xix, ‘Well, and you want your fortune told’, she said.‥ ‘I don't care about it, mother; you may please yourself’.


b. Mother Bunch [f. the name of a noted ale-wife of late Elizabethan times]: (a) Obs. slang, water; (b) a stout or untidy old woman. Mother Carey's Chicken, Goose: see chicken n.1 4, goose 2. Mother Hubbard: a kind of cloak (named after a person celebrated in a well-known nursery rime); also, a kind of loose-fitting garment (chiefly U.S.). Mother Shipton: the name of a legendary ‘prophetess’ of the 16th c.; adopted as the name of a moth, Euclidea mi (also called the Shipton moth).

1591 Spenser (title) Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubberds Tale. 1600 Dekker Shoemaker's Holiday sig. H2v Am I sure that Paules steeple is a handful higher than London stone? or that the pissing conduit leakes nothing but pure mother Bunch? 1847 C. Brontë J. Eyre II. iii. 81 You talked of going‥to visit the gipsy camp;‥one of the old Mother Bunches is in the servants' hall at this moment. 1861 G. J. Whyte-Melville Market Harborough viii. 94, I have seen mammas whom the fairest of Eve's daughters might be proud to resemble; but it is sometimes hard upon the young Phœbe to have‥at her side the shapeless Mother Bunch, into the fac-simile of which she must eventually grow. 1878 F. M. A. Roe Army Lett. from Officer's Wife (1909) 186, I made a Mother Hubbard apron of white paper-cambric. 1882 Wide Awake (Boston, Mass.) Jan. 18/2 A little girl in a sort of Mother Hubbard cap‥is starting off on a journey. 1882 W. F. Kirby Europ. Butterflies & M. (1903) Plate xlii, Euclidia Mi—Mother Shipton. 1883 Fort. Rev. 1 Sept. 351 The ugly and unbecoming covering so long popular as the Mother Hubbard cloak. 1884 Nat. Police Gaz. (U.S.) 30 Aug. 12/3 Mattoon's Chief of Police issued an order that any woman appearing on the streets wearing a Mother Hubbard dress would be arrested and lodged in jail. 1894 Outing XXIV. 271/1 Six years ago the finest dress to be seen was a calico Mother Hubbard. 1911 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 19 Apr. 24/4 Overall Aprons, of navy print with white dots, made in Mother Hubbard style. 1919 W. S. Maugham Moon & Sixpence xlix. 212 Tiaré Johnson‥was dressed usually in a pink Mother Hubbard. 1939 J. Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath viii. 99 Ma‥wore a loose Mother Hubbard of grey cloth.‥ The dress came down to her ankles. 1943 H. W. Krieger Island Peoples of Western Pacific 40 The native dress of the women [of the Gilbert Islands], a grass skirt extending from the waist to the knee, has been for the most part replaced by the ‘Mother Hubbard’, which is made of imported cotton print cloth. 1964 Guardian 28 Dec. 6/4 She no more looks like a Mother Bunch than sounds like one‥a fairly plump but elegant, well-dressed woman. 1966 ‘R. Standish’ Widow Hack viii. 87, I can persuade you to swim wearing a Mother Hubbard over your swimsuit. Then I'll be able to concentrate.


II. Technical applications.


5. In obsolete scientific uses: after L. mater.a. Anat. In the names of certain structures in the brain. hard mother = dura mater; godly mother, meek mother, mild mother, soft mother = pia mater. Obs.

1398 Trevisa Barth. De P.R. v. i. (Tollem. MS.), Þe harde moder and þe milde moder. Ibid. v. iii. (1495) 105. Ibid. 106 The seconde webbe and skynne of the brayne hyghte pia mater the meke moder. 1541 R. Copland Guydon's Quest. Chirurg. Ej, The soft moder by vaynes. 1594 [see godly a. 3]. 1615 Crooke Body of Man 444 The one of these‥is thicke and called dura mater the hard Mother, the other‥thinne called pia mater, the deere or neere Mother.


b. Astrol. = mater 1. Obs.

c1391 Chaucer Astrol. i. §3 The Moder of thyn Astrolabie is the thikkeste plate.


c. Geomancy. (See quot. 1591.) Obs.

1591 Sparry tr. Cattan's Geomancie 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. Sanders Physiogn. 32, I erected my Figure, drawing from my points and lines, a Mother. 1889 Sat. Rev. 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.


6. = mother-liquor, -water: see 17a.

1611 Florio, Acqua Maestra, the master-water. Salt-peeter men call it mother of Salt peeter. 1674 Ray Collection 136 (Manner of making Vitriol) The liquor that remains after the vitriol is crystallized, they call the mother. 1678 Phil. Trans. XII. 1055 When the Work is begun, and Alum once made, then they save the Liquour which comes from the Alum, or wherein the Alum shoots, which they call Mothers. 1681 Grew Musæum iii. §iii. i. 343 The Lee after the first shooting of the Alum; is called Mothers. 1758 Reid tr. Macquer's Chym. I. 240 Evaporate and crystallize.‥ Repeat the same operation till the liquor will yield no more crystals: it will then be very thick, and goes by the name of Mother of Nitre. 1839 Penny Cycl. XV. 448/1 Mother~water. When any saline solution has been evaporated so as to deposit crystals on cooling, the remaining solution is termed the mother-water, or sometimes merely the mothers.


7. (More fully, artificial mother.) An apparatus for rearing chickens artificially.

1807 Trans. Soc. Arts XXV. 25 Artificial mothers for the chickens to run under. 1830 ‘B. Moubray’ Dom. Poultry (ed. 6) 48 An artificial mother cannot be dispensed with, under which the chickens may brood and shelter. 1884 Knight Dict. Mech. Suppl., Mother, the hen-mother at Baker's Cresshill poultry farm is of hollow zinc, filled with hot water [etc.]. 1906 Westm. Gaz. 14 Nov. 8/3 Incubators, and poultry ‘mothers’.


8. A cask or vat used in vinegar-making.

1830 M. Donovan Dom. Econ. I. 329 Into each vat or mother are poured twenty-two gallons of good vinegar boiling. 1839 Ure Dict. Arts 3 The vessels employed for carrying on the fermentation are casks, called mothers.


9. The inner bark of a cork-tree.

1862 Illustr. Lond. News 25 Jan. 101/1 The first act of the cultivator is to separate it [the ‘male’] from the trunk, which thus leaves exposed the liber, termed ‘mother’.


10. Naut. = mother-ship: see 17a, below.

1907 Daily Chron. 5 Aug. 4/4 Four ‘mothers’ and the ‘Sapphire’, flagship of Admiral Montgomerie.


11. 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.

1918 H. Seymour Reproduction of Sound 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 Gramophone Record 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 Godfrey & Amos Sound Recording & Reproduction v. 139 A second negative copy known as the ‘stamper’ or ‘working matrix’ is obtained from the mother. 1968 Jazz Monthly 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.


III. 12. a. The womb. Obs.

1398 Trevisa Barth. De P.R. v. xlix. (1495) 166 The moder in wymen is synguler membre disposyd as a bladder. 14‥ Parts of Hum. Body in Wr.-Wülcker 632/7 Modure, matrix. 1545 T. Raynalde Byrth Mankynde 9 These thre woordes, the matrix, the mother, and the wombe do sygnyfie but one thyng. 1609 Holland Amm. Marcell. 55 The daintie meat made of the mother‥of a young sow. 1657 W. Coles Adam in Eden ix. 20 The lesser Lavander is much commended in all Diseases of the Mother. 1681 W. Robertson Phraseol. Gen. (1693) 897 The mother or womb; matrix. 1706 Phillips (ed. Kersey), Hystera, the Mother or Womb.
fig. 1398 Trevisa Barth. De P.R. xi. xiv. (Tollem. MS.), As Gregory sayeþ, he [lightning] comeþ oute of his moder [L. de matrice sua] as a twynkelynge of an ye. 1610 Willet Hexapla Dan. 291 That first law was the mother and wombe as it were of all Gods precepts.


b. rising (suffocation, swelling upward, etc.) of the mother: Hysteria.

1527 Andrew Brunswyke's Distyll. Waters Miv, Dronke of the same water‥is very good for women whose moder dooth ronne upwarde to the harte. 1601 Holland Pliny II. 40 The rising or suffocation of the mother in women,‥it cureth. 1626 Bacon Sylva §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.


13. Hysteria: equivalent to the phrases in 12b. Also fits of the mother. Obs. or arch.

14‥ Stockh. Med. MS. ii. 314 in Anglia XVIII. 315 It is good to playster & many oþer thyng For þe moder & to drynkyng. 1545 T. Raynalde Byrth Mankynde 116 [Diseases of infants.] Fearefulnesse in the dreames: the mother: yssuynge out of the fundament gut. 1605 Shakes. Lear ii. iv. 56 Oh how this Mother swels vp toward my heart! Historica passio, downe thou climing sorrow. 1607 Topsell Hist. Fourf. Beasts (1658) 104 It pacifieth the milt,‥expelleth away mothers. 1615 Crooke Body of Man 231 Many passions called Hystericæ, which we call fits of the Mother. 1620 Venner Via Recta (1650) 63 It is not fit for women to use that are subject to hystericall fits, which they call the Mother. 1672 J. Josselyn New Eng. Rarities 86 Mayweed, excellent for the mother. 1706–7 Farquhar Beaux Strat. i. i, She cures‥fits of the mother, in women. 1792 E. Sibly Occult Sciences I. 103 The particular diseases of this sign are‥hardness of the spleen, mother, hypocondriac melancholy. 1820 Mair Tyro's Dict. (ed. 10) 373 Strangulatus, a disease in women called the mother.


IV. Quasi-adj. and in Combination.


14. Used appositively: = ‘that is a mother’. a. lit., of animals.

a1300 Cursor M. 14969 A moder ass yee sal þar find, And yee hir sal vn-do vte of hir band. 1465 Paston Lett. II. 211 There lefte behynde of Heylesdonfolde of my mastre schepe xlj modreschep. 1630 in R. Griffiths Ess. Conservancy Thames (1746) 74 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 Virg. Georg. iii. 87 The Mother Cow must wear a low'ring Look. 1793 Cowper A Tale 45 The mother-bird is gone to sea. 1817 Coleridge Zapolya ii. ii, The mother-falcon hath her nest above it. 1882 Floyer Unexpl. Baluchistan 202 Then there were four old mother goats.


b. of a woman or a goddess.

1625 K. Long tr. Barclay's Argenis i. xx. 58 Pallas, whose young and tender yeeres No Mother-goddesse dandeled. 1675 H. Woolley Gentlew. Companion 3 Be ye Mother-patterns of Virtue to your Daughters. 1759 Grainger Tibullus I. 41 Thee, Orpheus, what avail'd‥Thy Mother-muse and beast-enchanting song. 1904 W. M. Ramsay Lett. to Seven Ch. xix. 258 The tutelary deity of Smyrna was the Mother-goddess Cybele.


c. transf. and fig. of things (see sense 2); spec. mother-house, the founding house of a religious order.

a1225 Ancr. R. 216 Ȝe habbeð iherd‥of þeo þet me cleopeð ȝe seoue moder sunnen. 1479 Priory of Hexham (Surtees) II. 24 Molendinum‥cum stagno et le modir-dame. 1594 Hooker Eccl. Pol. i. iii. §2 Those principall & mother elements of the world, wherof all things in this lower world are made. 1604 Hieron Wks. I. 484 Because ignorance is a mother sin, therefore [etc.]. 1611 Cotgr., Veine saphene, the mother veine. c1611 Chapman Iliad xxii. 129 Till they reacht, where those two mother springs, Of deepe Scamander, pour'd abroad, their siluer murmurings. 1645 Rutherford Tryal & Tri. Faith (1845) 85 Christ hath covenant-right to the promises by this mother-right, that God is his God by covenant. 1661 Manifest publisht to their Brethren by General Chapter of Catholick English Clergy 3 Dr. Leyburn does calumniate us, as being Enemies to our Mother-house, the Colledge of Doway. 1691 Norris Pract. Disc. 118 Love‥is a general Mother-Vertue, the principle of a more particular and special Obedience. 1763 Mills Syst. Pract. Husb. IV. 403 The layers‥must be allowed two years to take root, before they are cut off from the mother-tree. a1773 A. Butler Lives Saints (1779) III. 243 When in 1504 the abbey of Mount Cassino joined this Congregation, it took the name of this mother-house. 1784 M. Weighton Drainage Award 9 The mother drain, or navigable canal, now made. 1791 E. Darwin Bot. Gard. i. 32 Lifts proud Anteus from his mother-plains. 1798 Coleridge Fears in Solit. 176 O dear Britain! O my Mother Isle! 1840 [see branch house s.v. branch n. 13]. 1854 Stanley Mem. Canterb. i. (1857) 26 The Cathedral of Canterbury [is] the mother cathedral of England. 1874 Raymond Statist. Mines & Mining 342 On the supposition that it is the mother-vein of the country from which the ores of the Silver Flat‥are derived. 1932 C. P. Curran in F. J. Sheed Irish Way 269 In this spirit she worked for ten years in the Mother-house and novitiate. 1956 K. Hulme Nun's Story i. 12 The Order was established at the end of the eighteenth century. How many postulants had passed through this mother house could never be guessed.


d. In modern Biology and Pathology, of structures or growths from which others proceed, as mother-abscess, mother-meristem, mother nucleus, mother-vesicle.

1898 P. Manson Trop. Diseases xxiii. 361 Generally the pulmonary abscess communicates with the *mother-abscess in the liver. 1874 Q. Jrnl. Microsc. Sci. XIV. 304 The *mother-meristem of the fibro-vascular system. 1891 Syd. Soc. Lex., *Mother nucleus. 1885–8 Fagge & Pye-Smith Princ. Med. (ed. 2) I. 28 In such cases [of infection by inoculation] however, there is developed a ‘primary’ or ‘*mother-vesicle’.


15. a. Simple attrib. (more or less rhetorical): as mother arms, mother bosom, mother heart, mother-instinct, mother love, mother mind, mother pain, mother pang, mother pity, mother-sentiment, mother smile, mother want; objective, as mother †queller, mother-slayer; mother murdering adj.; instrumental, as mother-centred, mother-dominated, mother murdered adj.; parasynthetic, as mother hearted adj. Also motherwards, motherwise advs.

1843 Carlyle Past & Pr. iii. viii. 235 In how many ways‥does she, as with blessed *mother-arms, enfold us all! 1837 —— Fr. Rev. I. iii. ii. 135 How she will reabsorb the former into her *Mother-bosom. 1956 Firth & Djamour in R. Firth Two Studies of Kinship in London ii. 41 Some United States sociologists‥have suggested the term ‘*mother-centred families’ for households in which the mother has the dominant role. 1965 Observer 4 Apr. 26/4 Pirandello‥was a mother-centred man. 1963 Times 23 Apr. 16/4 The *mother-dominated hero. 1881 ‘Mark Twain’ Prince & Pauper 114 Her sharp *mother-instinct seemed to detect it. 1920 T. P. Nunn Education xi. 131 A thorough-going misogynist could make out a case for applying the adjectives ‘mechanical’, ‘blind’, ‘unintelligent’, even to human mother-instinct. 1854 [De Powys] Uriel, etc. (1857) 106 All things rest,‥Lulled in Mary's *mother-love. 1647 Cowley Mistr., My Hrt. Discovered 16 Thoughts‥Fair and chast, as *Mother-Mind. a1592 Marlowe Ovid's Eleg. ii. xiv. 30 *Mother-murder'd Itys. 1590 C'tess Pembroke Antonie 58 Orestes torche, Which sometimes burnt his *mother-murdering soule. 1709 Mrs. Manley Secret Mem. (1736) II. 44 When the *Mother-Pains came upon her. Ibid. III. 15 Like‥Abortives under the *Mother Pangs. 1819 J. H. Payne Brutus v. iii, To strike their country in the mother-pangs Of struggling child-birth. 1878 Pater Wks. (1901) V. 110 His [C. Lamb's] simple *mother-pity for those who suffer. c1440 Promp. Parv. 341/2 *Modyr qwellare,‥matricida. 1920 *Mother-sentiment [see father n. 11b]. c1375 Sc. Leg. Saints xvi. (Magdalena) 462 Allace! nov is þe barne sa borne *modyr-slaar. 1483 Cath. Angl. 242/1 A Modyr slaer, matricida. 1838 Mrs. Browning Rom. Ganges xix, Press deeper down thy *mother-smile His glossy curls among. 1856 —— Aur. Leigh i. 40, I felt a *mother-want about the world. 1893 Tablet 15 July 110 It does not forbid the dying son to cast his eyes *motherwards. 1890 Le Gallienne Meredith 52 She smiles on them *motherwise.


b. with the sense ‘inherited or learned from one's mother’, ‘native’, as in mother tongue and combinations imitated from this; also in mother-wit, mother-sense.

1603 Owen Pembrokeshire iii. (1892) 36 For otherwise the Englishe tongue had not ben theire comon and mother speache as it was. 1611 Beaum. & Fl. Philaster v. iv, Let‥your nimble tongs forget your mother Gibberish. 1644 Milton Educ. 2 He were nothing so much to be esteem'd a learned man, as any‥tradesman competently wise in his mother dialect only. 1732 Law Serious C. xix. (1761) 324 As we call our first language our mother-tongue, so we may as justly call our first tempers our mother-tempers. 1851 Borrow Lavengro xvii, You want two things, brother: mother sense, and gentle Rommany. 1904 J. Wells J. H. Wilson vi. 64 A racy and powerful evangelist in his mother-Scotch.


16. a. Genitive combinations, as mother's bairn Sc. (said of a spoiled child); mother's blessing (see quot. 1861); mother's boy, a boy or man who resembles or is dominated by, or excessively attached to, his mother; a sissy; mother's darling = mother's boy; Mother's (or Mothers') Day orig. U.S., a day on which mothers are particularly honoured: in the U.S., the second Sunday in May; in Britain = Mothering Sunday; also attrib.; mother's help, a person who helps a mother, mainly by looking after children; mothers' meeting, a meeting (usually weekly) of mothers (of the working classes) connected with a parish or congregation, for the purpose of receiving instruction and counsel; also fig.; mother's milk (see milk n. 1c); mother's pet = pet n.1 2a; also, the youngest child of a family; mother's ruin slang, gin (cf. ruin n. 10); Mothers' Union, an organization for mothers to meet together regularly. Also, (every) mother's son, mother's child (†in ME. moder bern), daughter = (every) person.

a1225 St. Marher. 2 Ha‥walde ȝeorne ȝef godes wille were þæt ha moste beon an of þe moder bern þæt so muche drohen for drihtin. 1896 A. Lang Monk of Fife i. 3 Of me, in our country speech, it used to be said that I was ‘a mother's bairn’. 1861 Mayhew London Labour (1862) 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. 1880 F. Stevenson Let. July in J. Pope-Hennessy R. L. Stevenson (1974) vii. 142 Louis is, as I know, a mother's boy‥and I am sure he looks like you. 1924 D. H. Lawrence Phoenix II (1968) 619 Oh, women, beware the mother's boy! 1945 ‘L. Lewis’ Birthday Murder (1951) ii. 26 Stan's happy as he is being supported by his mother. He's a mother's boy. 1973 W. J. Burley Death in Salubrious Place ii. 42 Mother's boy—that's his trouble, but it takes all sorts. 1857 Lytton What will he do with It? (1859) I. i. i. 7 He looked like a mother's darling—perhaps he was one. 1922 Joyce Ulysses 33 That knockkneed mother's darling. 1936 ‘J. Tey’ Shilling for Candles iv. 41 Mother's darlings had those eyes; so, sometimes, had womanizers. 1675 Cotton Burlesque upon B. 147 Ladies! thou (Paris) moov'st my laughter, They'r Deities ev'ry Mothers Daughter. 1908 Congr. Rec. 9 May 5971/1 Resolved, That Sunday, May 10, 1908, be recognized as Mothers' Day. 1926 A. Huxley Jesting Pilate iv. 264 In the First Methodist Church‥they were going to distribute ‘Mother's Day Flowers to all Worshippers’. (On Mother's Day you must wear a red carnation if your mother is alive, a white one if she is dead.) 1958 Listener 27 Nov. 874/1 As uniquely and inimitably American as John Foster Dulles or Mothers' Day. 1959 I. & P. Opie Lore & Lang. Schoolch. xii. 242 In 1956 the majority of High Street shops [in Britain] were displaying ‘Mother's Day’ gifts in their windows. 1962 Listener 12 Apr. 628/1 Last Mother's Day—a retail selling device imported from the United States—the flower-shops were as busy as ice-cream vans during a heat wave. 1881 Instr. Census Clerks (1885) 30 Mother's Help. 1908 A. S. M. Hutchinson Once aboard Lugger i. vii. 41 She is not exactly my friend; she is my—my employer. I'm a mother's-help. 1961 Evening Standard 14 July 25/5 (Advt.), A Mother's Help‥for happy family. 1865 C. M. Yonge Clever Woman II. xxx. 312 The mothers' meetings for the soldiers' wives. 1887 ‘Edna Lyall’ Knt. Errant (1889) 282, I was trying to get the Mothers'-Meeting accounts right. 1925 Fraser & Gibbons Soldier & Sailor Words 159 Mother's meeting, an occasional name among bluejackets for the captain's address to a ship's company. 1946 D. Hamson We fell among Greeks 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?’ 1824 J. Mactaggart Scottish Gallovidian Encycl. 348 Mithers-pet, the youngest child of a family; the mother's greatest favourite; the Tony Lumpkin of the house. 1830 A. Picken Dominie's Legacy I. 104 He was‥as raw looking, overgrown, gawky a youth, as any mother's pet of a student. 1937 Partridge Dict. Slang 535/1 Mother's ruin. 1955 P. Jones Birthday Honours i. 10, I have been to a party, darling.‥ What would you like? ‘Mother's Ruin’? 1970 New Scientist 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. 1888 Mrs. G. Sumner To Mothers of Higher Classes vi. 55 The ‘Mothers' Union’, now started in the Winchester Diocese, and in other Dioceses, is a very simple plan. 1972 L. Lamb Picture Frame xiv. 123, I shall have to run a mothers' union or something.


b. The uninflected genitive survived late in Sc. in certain combinations, as mother-brother, mother sister, a maternal uncle or aunt; mother half, motherside = mother's side (with reference to descent). Obs.

1483 Caxton Gold. Leg. 70/2 This thamar was Absalons suster by the moder syde. a1500 Burgh Lawis xcviii. (1868) 48 That ayre‥sal be in yemsell of his frendis on the mudyr-half. 1513 in Fam. Rose of Kilravock (Spalding Club) 183 Valter Ross of Kinstary moder broder to the said vmquhile Archibalde. a1578 Lindesay (Pitscottie) Chron. Scot. (S.T.S.) II. 175 Thair captane Monsr de Gwise our quens mother brother. 1596 Dalrymple tr. Leslie's Hist. Scot. ix. 181 He was the kingis mother brother. 1622 Mabbe tr. Aleman's Guzman d'Alf. ii. 184 His kinswoman by the mother-side. 1678 Wedderburn's Vocab. 11 (Jam.) Avunculus, the mother-brother. Ibid., Matertera, the mother-sister. 1768 Boswell Corsica ii. (ed. 2) 58 Being uncle by the mother-side to Eurysthenes.


17. Special comb.: a. attrib. (and genitive), mother-alkali, alkali obtained from the mother-liquor left after crystallization; mother-and-baby home, an establishment serving as a maternity home for unmarried mothers, usu. with pre- and post-natal services; mother-bomb (see quot. 1971); †mother-borough = mother-city (a); mother-cell Biol., a cell which later undergoes cell division and gives rise to daughter-cells; spec. a cell which later undergoes meiotic division; mother-child a., of or pertaining to a mother and her child; mother-city, (a) = metropolis in various senses; (b) a city regarded as serving as a mother to someone; mother-clove (see quot. 1866); mother coal, mineral charcoal; mother complex, a complex (see complex 3) about one's mother; mother-cult, the worship of a mother-goddess; mother-daughter a., of or pertaining to a mother and her daughter; †mother descent, descent by the mother's side; mother-feryer U.S. slang = mother-fucker; mother figure, a person or thing endowed with some of the attributes of a mother; mother fit = ‘fit of the mother’, a hysteric attack; mother fixation, a fixation (see fixation 3b) on one's mother; mother-fucker coarse slang (orig. and chiefly U.S.), a base, despicable person; someone or something that is very unpleasant; hence mother-fucking ppl. a., despicable, base; unpleasant; = bloody a. 10; mother gate Coal-mining [gate n.2] (see quot. 1860); mother-grabbing ppl. a. (U.S. slang) = mother-fucking ppl. adj.; mother idea [= F. idée mère], the fundamental idea (of something, e.g. of an institution, a literary work); mother image, imago, the mental or realized image of an idealized or archetypal mother; mother-in (or and)-babe, used attrib. to designate a wooden bobbin, the hollow shank of which contains another smaller bobbin; mother liquid, liquor = the liquid left after crystallization, e.g. of sea-salt; mother-lode Min., the principal vein of ore; also fig.; mother-loving ppl. a., (a) that loves one's mother; (b) = mother-fucking ppl. adj.; freq. used as a vague intensive; mother-lye, the mother-liquor of an alkali; mother maid, -maiden, the Virgin Mary; mother mark (? obs.), mother's mark, a nævus; mother mould Sculpture, a rigid mould which holds casting material; mother pian = mamma pian; mother plane orig. U.S., an aircraft which launches or controls another aircraft; mother plant, (a) a parent plant from which other plants have been derived; (b) the female or seed-bearing parent of a hybrid (B. D. Jackson Gloss. Bot. Terms 1900); mother queen = queen-mother; also applied to a queen-bee; mother-raper U.S. slang = mother-fucker; mother-raping ppl. a. (U.S. slang) = mother-fucking ppl. adj.; mother right, (a) = matriarchy; (b) the custom by which dynastic succession passes only in the female line; mother ship, (a) a ship or airship escorting or having charge of a number of other, usu. smaller, craft; also transf.; (b) an aircraft or rocket from which another aircraft or rocket is launched or controlled; = mother plane; mother sick a., pining for one's mother (cf. mammy-sick); mother skein, ‘a continuous ribbon-like figure of chromatin in the early stages of nuclear division’ (B. D. Jackson); mother-son a., of or pertaining to a mother and her son; †mother spar, the matrix of an ore; mother spot = mother's mark; mother star = monaster; mother stone, (a) the matrix of a mineral; also, a stone from which other minerals are derived by structural or chemical change; (b) see quot. 1770–4; mother substitute, surrogate, a person or thing that takes the place of the mother; †mother suppository, a suppository for the womb, a pessary; mother-symbol, that which is symbolic of the mother or of motherhood; mother thought = mother idea; mother tincture, in Homœopathy, a pure undiluted tincture of a drug; mother-to-be, an expectant mother; †mother wasp (see quot.); mother-water = mother-liquor; mother wool (see quot.); mother yaw = mamma pian.

1880 J. Lomas Alkali Trade 244 ‘Weak’ or ‘*mother’ alkali is a fine powdery substance. 1965 Hall & Howes Church in Social Work v. 90 The county council was running its own *mother and baby home. 1972 Guardian 14 July 11/2 Miss McM will not consider going into a mother and baby home and is against adoption. 1971 New Scientist 21 Jan. 135/2 Shrapnel grenades‥are dropped individually, or in clusters from canisters (‘*mother-bombs’). a1225 Leg. Kath. 46 Þe *moder burh of Alexandres riche. 1845 Encycl. Metrop. VII. 239/1 This may depend either upon the walls of the *mother-cell having been originally thicker, or [etc.]. 1875 Bennett & Dyer Sachs' Bot. 440 The pollen-grains, when free from their mother-cells, are unicellular and spherical. 1875 Mother-cell [see Ascomycetes]. 1920 W. E. Agar Cytology vii. 212 The diagrams start with the pollen mother-cell in the male and the embryo-sac mother-cell in the female—in each case the last cell generation of the diploid phase. 1932 C. D. Darlington Rec. Adv. Cytol. i. 5 In a ‘mother-cell’ two nuclear divisions follow one another rapidly while the chromosomes only divide once. 1959 W. Andrew Textbk. Compar. Histol. xii. 486 Earlier workers believed this cell to be a mother cell for the successive groups of spermatogonia. 1937 H. Read Art & Society v. 191 At first these instincts are concentrated on the mother, and any being that threatens to interfere with the *mother-child bond incurs the child's enmity. 1963 Auden Dyer's Hand 440 The mother-child relationship‥stands for the kind of love that is unaffected by time. 1563–87 Foxe A. & M. (1596) 10/2 Bishops of the *mother citie and archbishops were all one. 1575–85 Abp. Sandys Serm. viii. 132 The mother Citie of the Realme is reasonably furnished with faithfull preachers. 1908 Westm. Gaz. 4 Aug. 5/1 Capetown‥is in the truest sense the µητρόπολις of South Africa, the ‘mother-city’ from which the rest have sprung. 1935 L. MacNeice Poems 20 See Belfast.‥ This was my mother-city, these my paps.‥ I cannot be Anyone else than what this land engendered me. 1690 Blancard Lex. Med. 41 Anthophylli…Angl. *Mother cloves. 1693 A. van Leeuwenhoek in Phil. Trans. XVII. 952, I chose some of the largest Cloves I could find, called Mother-Cloves. 1866 Treas. Bot., Mother cloves, a name in the East for the fully expanded flower-buds of Caryophyllus aromaticus. 1873 Dawson Earth & Man vi. 118 A dusty fibrous substance, like charcoal, called ‘*mother~coal’ by miners. 1919 M. K. Bradby Psycho-Analysis 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. 1924 Spectator 16 Aug. 229/1, I got a mother-complex. 1936 C. Day Lewis Friendly Tree i. vi. 87 He sucks a pipe constantly. The mother-complex. Infantilism. 1948 Yearbk. Psychoanal. IV. 172 (title) The mother complex in literature. 1960 R. F. C. Hull tr. Jung's Structure & Dynamics of Psyche in Coll. Wks. (1966) VIII. v. 369 Analysis shows an infantile longing for the mother, a so-called mother complex. 1909 Westm. Gaz. 2 Feb. 5/1 From the trend of recent writings in Hindu literature it is suggested that the *Mother cult has been revived. 1969 C. Fremlin Possession ii. 17 The closeness of the *mother-daughter relationship. 1974 —— By Horror Haunted 138 An ordinary, typical mother-daughter misunderstanding. 1642 Fuller Holy & Prof. St. iv. xv. 313 Her royall birth by her Fathers side doth comparatively make her *Mother-descent seem low. 1946 Mezzrow & Wolfe Really Blues 4 A *motherferyer that would cut your throat for looking. 1953 New Biol. XIV. 29 In birds, for instance, we have the astonishing phenomenon called imprinting, by which the sign stimulus of the IRM to follow a *mother-figure differentiates. 1957 Economist 7 Sept. 821/2 The commonest illusion‥is that the United Nations is a miraculous mother-figure which will give suck and shelter to all comers. 1970 Daily Tel. 22 Sept. 14 Mrs Meir is both a superb politician and a Jewish mother-figure which the young State [of Israel] may well need. 1971 Ibid. 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. 1657 P. Henry Diary & Lett. (1882) 65 *Mother-fits. 1681 Grew Musæum i. i. 4 A Thong hereof ty'd about the middle, is of good use‥especially against Mother-Fits. 1921 Internat. Jrnl. Psychoanal. II. 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 Scott. Jrnl. Theol. VII. 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. 1969 C. Allen Textbk. Psychosexual Disorders (ed. 2) xvii. 375 Sailors usually carry‥the mother's photograph.‥ There is strong mother-fixation in their choice of prostitutes. 1956 Amer. Speech XXXI. 111 This linguistic vacuum is being filled by a new obscenity symbol, *mother-fucker. 1960 J. Baldwin in Partisan Rev. Spring 292 You've got to fight with the elevator boy because the motherf*****'s white! 1970 R. D. Abrahams Positively Black ii. 45 I'm one motherfucker that don't mind dying. 1971 B. W. Aldiss Soldier Erect 142 Jock‥looked up into my face. ‘The bastards, the fucking mean scab-devouring mankey-minded shower of mother-fuckers!’ 1971 J. Mandelkau Buttons xiii. 149 These mother-fuckers had been whining they had no food to sell the people—and this place was stacked! 1973 Black Panther 21 July 16/1 We will kill any motherfucker that stands in the way of our freedom. 1959 N. Mailer Advts. for Myself (1961) 351 They could smash some *mother-f——ing Reds. 1968 Rat 13–16 May 10/2 The police were interminably long in getting into Math. Good mother-fucking barricades. 1969 P. Roth Portnoy's Complaint 106 You muff-diving, mother-fucking son of a bitch! 1974 S. Ellin Stronghold 23 ‘You motherfucking black clown,’ Harvey says without heat, ‘nothing is changed.’ 1839 Penny Cycl. XV. 247 When the bord or ‘*mother-gate’ has proceeded some distance on both sides of the pit [etc.]. 1860 Eng. & For. Min. Gloss (Newc. Terms), Mothergate, the bord along which the coals are trammed from a district of workings. 1959 M. Russ Half Moon Haven (1961) i. 60 There isn't one item on this *mother-grabbing planet that I ‘like’. 1858 O. W. Holmes Aut. Breakf.-t x, There is a *mother-idea in each particular kind of tree, which, if well marked, is probably embodied in the poetry of every language. 1941 L. MacNeice Poetry of W. B. Yeats 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. 1968 C. Rycroft Crit. Dict. Psychoanal. 93 Conceptions of the mother existing in the infant's mind formed by splitting of the mother image. 1973 J. Singer Boundaries of Soul iv. 91 The Mother image appeared under strange circumstances to my analysand Margaret. 1916 B. M. Hinkle tr. Jung's Psychol. of Unconscious v. 250 That amount of libido which unconsciously is fastened to the *mother-imago. 1956 R. F. C. Hull tr. Jung's Symbols of Transformation in Coll. Wks. V. ii. v. 222 The water and tree symbolism‥likewise refer to the libido that is unconsciously attached to the mother-imago. 1919 T. Wright Romance Lace Pillow xiii. 126 *Mother-in-Babe Bobbins, in the hollowed shank of which a tiny wooden bobbin rattles. 1928 G. Whiting Tools & Toys of Stitching 220 The Cow-and-Calf and Mother-and-Babe bobbins—they are a perfect, never-ending joy and a masterpiece of the Midlands! 1969 E. H. Pinto Treen 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. 1839 Ure Dict. Arts 1133 The more of the crystalline particles are drained from the metallic bath, the richer does the *mother liquid become in silver. 1796 Kirwan Elem. Min. (ed. 2) II. 362 The *mother liquor poured off. 1890 Abney Photogr. (ed. 6) 73 The mother liquor may be employed for intensifying. c1882 J. H. Beadle Western Wilds xxxiv. 561 What miners call a ‘*mother lode’ is often like a tree in its upward development: below is the main trunk, above the branches diverge. 1927 B. A. McKelvie Black Canyon p. vi, They started up-stream in search of the mother-lode. 1960 Encounter XIV. iii. 74 The pages of the T.L.S. were the very mother-lode of academic inanity. 1965 G. J. Williams Econ. Geol. N.Z. v. 58/1 The mother-lode that had been envisaged as the source of the gold in the Blue~spur ‘cement’. 1972 Times Lit. Suppl. 25 Feb. 219/1 It is mother lode, with rich ore; but it lacks the refining that the author intended to give it. 1964 O. E. Middleton in C. K. Stead N.Z. Short Stories (1966) 198 We'd all be drawing the dole like every other *mother-loving beach~comber. 1969 ‘J. Morris’ Fever Grass i. 6 Get her out of that mother-lovin' joint an' into the cab. 1800 Med. Jrnl. III. 82 These *mother-leys still contain a certain quantity of caustic soda. c1865 Circ. Sci. I. 331/2 The fluid from which crystals are precipitated is called mother-lye. 1612 Donne Progr. Soul, 2nd Anniv. 341 Where thou shalt see the blessed *Mother-maid. c1425 St. Mary of Oignies ii. viii. in Anglia VIII. 173 Lyke a childe soukynge þe pappes of þe *moder-mayden. 1797 Encycl. Brit. (ed. 3) XII. 615/2 Nævus, a mole on the skin, generally called a *mother's mark. 1822–34 Good's Study Med. (ed. 4) IV. 536 These [moles] differ essentially from nævi or genuine mother marks. 1884 Encycl. Brit. XVII. 163/1 It is often congenital, hence the term ‘mother's mark’, or it may appear in early childhood. 1898 C. R. Ashbee tr. Cellini's Treat. Goldsmithing & Sculpture 116 Put them into the cavities‥in the mould.‥ Or ‘*mother mould’ as the sculptors would call it. 1947 J. C. Rich Materials & Methods of Sculpture v. 100 A heavily bodied plaster mix can be applied over the agar impression to form a mother mold or casing. 1969 R. Mayer Dict. Art Terms & Techniques 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. 1898 *Mother-pian [see mamma1 e]. 1936 Sun (Baltimore) 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 Time 19 Nov. 52/2 Everything it sees is projected by radio on a screen in the mother plane. 1962 Daily Tel. 10 Sept. 18/4 The ‘mother’ plane would carry pick-a-back a plane which would be launched at the fringe of space. 1655–87 H. More App. Antid. (1712) 211 Now this regular conformation of the Seed came from the uniform motion of particles in the *Mother-plant. 1707 Mortimer Husb. (1721) II. 48, I think those raised by Layers from a Mother-plant make the best Trees. 1868 Darwin Anim. & Pl. xxvii. II. 365 Foreign pollen occasionally affects the mother-plant in a direct manner. 1591 Troub. Reigne K. John ii. 55 The *Mother Queene she taketh on amisse Gainst Ladie Constance. 1595 Shakes. John ii. i. 62 With him along is come the Mother Queene. 1816 Kirby & Sp. Entomol. xviii. (1818) II. 117 When the mother-queen was removed, several of the small females contended for the cell with indescribable rage. 1966 C. Himes Heat's On iii. 30 Some *mother-raper is shooting at me with water-melon seeds. Ibid. ii. 22 The dirty mother-raping white nigger! 1969 Mother-raping [see cock-sucking ppl. adj. s.v. cock n.1 23]. 1885 *Mother right [see matriarchy]. 1907 Q. Rev. July 195 Matriarchy, or rule of the mother, is not to be confused with mother-right, or rule through the mother. 1890 Pall Mall G. 2 June 2/1 In the case of the picket-boats, they should be entirely independent of a *mother-ship. 1902 H. C. Fyfe Submarine Warfare v. 108 A wire~less message‥has been sent to the commander of the ‘mother ship’. 1903 Daily Chron. 10 Jan. 5/1 The torpedo gunboat Hazard, which was stationed at Barrow to act as ‘mother-ship’ to the five tiny diving torpedo-boats. 1909 Q. Rev. Oct. 575 Depôt ships for destroyers, mother-ships for submarines, and oil-supply vessels. 1922 Encycl. Brit. XXX. 17/2 Scouts were flown off lighters at sea against airships, and off the decks of battleships and ‘mother’ ships. 1926 H. T. Wilkins Marvels Mod. Mech. 215 An engineer, aboard the airship, opened the telescopic apparatus which left the aeroplane swaying in space some 60 feet below the mother ship. 1938 Flight 8 Sept. 197/1 They [sc. engineers] designed for catapult launch from a mother ship;‥they used diesel engines. 1946 in Amer. Speech (1947) XXII. 230/2 The Navy's drones will be sent into the cloud by one mother ship. 1962 J. Tunstall Fishermen ii. 46 The fleet of catching vessels transfers its fish‥to a mother ship, which processes and freezes the fish at sea. 1967 Times Rev. Industry Apr. 48/3 Trailers, operating from the central plant and acting as ‘mother ships’ to the delivery vans, can replace the depots. 1969 Observer 20 July 7/3 After it has docked with the mother ship the astronauts will spend four hours going over every inch of the LEM. 1973 Sci. Amer. Nov. 23/1 The small ‘killer’ satellites in a ‘mother ship’ equipped with central guidance and detection devices. On command the mother ship would have oriented itself and determined when, at what rate and in what direction to launch its subsatellites. 1759 S. Fielding C'tess of Dellwyn I. 112 In fact, she was Husband-sick in a Manner the very reverse of what is generally termed *Mother-sick; for Girls are so called when they pine on being separated from their Mothers. 1927 B. Malinowski Sex & Repression in Savage Society ii. iii. 100 Not one single case of *mother-son incest could be found. 1949 M. Mead Male & Female xvi. 326 A mother-son combination is classified as bad for the son. 1681 Grew Musæum iii. i. v. 306 The *Mother-Spar of the Tin-Ore. 1690 Blancard Lex. Med. 388 Macula Matricalis‥Angl. The *mother spot. 1849 Craig, Mother-spots. 1889 *Mother star [see monaster]. 1442 in Willis & Clark Cambridge (1886) I. 386 Cariage of xviij lodis of *modrestone. 1770–4 A. Hunter Georg. Ess. (1803) I. 506 It's abounding with the stone, called in Hertfordshire, mother-stone (a concretion of many small blue pebbles). 1796 Kirwan Elem. Min. (ed. 2) I. 433 Granite‥is the mother-stone, by whose fusion basalt is produced. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Perth 17 Which some farmers call motherstone soil. 1855 J. R. Leifchild Cornwall Mines 91 Quartz generally prevails in the matrix (mother stone). 1943 J. S. Huxley Evolutionary Ethics ii. 16 The absence in the infant's life of a mother or effective *mother-substitute during the crucial period from about one to three years old. 1965 F. Sargeson Memoirs of Peon vi. 173 Two young sparrow-legged ruffians‥engaged in selling my mother-substitute a large trolley-load of empty bottles. 1578 Lyte Dodoens i. lxxxviii. 130 Pessarie (whiche is a *mother suppositorie). 1959 Science 21 Aug. 422/3 We took the calculated risk of constructing and using inanimate *mother surrogates rather than real mothers. 1969 E. Stotland Psychol. of Hope viii. 126 Cloth-covered objects‥appear to satisfy a need for contact and closeness; the babies cling to these mother surrogates while they do not cling to those made of uncovered wire. 1956 R. F. C. Hull tr. Jung's Symbols of Transformation in Coll. Wks. V. 301 At this stage the *mother-symbol‥points towards the unconscious as the creative matrix of the future. 1861 Motley in Corr. (1889) I. 368 As to the *mother-thought of the book, it is to me original. 1902 Encycl. Brit. XXIX. 312/2 The pure tinctures are denominated ‘*mother tinctures’. 1906 W. De Morgan Joseph Vance xvi. 149 She makes some concession to my feelings on the subject of High Dilutions, and (at great risk to myself, she says) allows me to have Mother-Tinctures. 1960 C. Dale Spring of Love i. 26 She would take a magazine‥and reread‥Sister Jane's advice to *mothers-to-be. 1973 A. Morice Death & Dutiful Daughter vii. 68 Has our little mother-to-be surfaced yet? 1679 M. Rusden Further Discov. Bees 4 The Male among Wasps, which some call the *Mother-Wasp, stings more venemously than the common Wasp doth. 1758 Reid tr. Macquer's Chym. 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 Orr's Circ. Sci., Chem. 14 To clear away from any crystalline product the mother-water. 1727–41 Chambers Cycl. s.v. Wool, The French and English usually separate each fleece into three sorts; viz. 1. *Mother-wool, which is that of the back and neck. 1822–34 Good's Study Med. (ed. 4) II. 433 The master fungus being named [in St. Domingo] the mama-pian or *mother yaw.


b. Phrasal combinations with of: †mother of amethyst, ? = blue John 2; mother of anchovies, the scad or horse-mackerel, Trachurus saurus; mother of cloves = mother clove (see 17a); mother of coal = mother coal (see 17a); Mother of Commonwealths U.S., Virginia; †mother of emeralds (see quot.); †mother of gold, a mineral supposed to indicate the presence of gold (quot. 1596 identifies the word with mother n.2); mother of the herrings (see herring 1c); mother of millions, the ivy-leaved toad-flax, Cymbalaria muralis; †mother of the mine (see quot.); mother of (the) months, the moon; Mother of Parliaments, (a) England; (b) the British Parliament; Mother of Presidents U.S., (a) Virginia; (b) Ohio; Mother of States U.S., (a) Connecticut; (b) Virginia; mother of thousands, (a) = mother of millions; (b) the common daisy, Bellis perennis; (c) Saxifraga sarmentosa; (d) the double blue creeping campanula (Britten & Holl.); (e) = helxine; mother of wheat (see quot.); mother of the wood, ‘the Asperula odorata’ (Syd. Soc. Lex. 1891); mother of yaws = mother yaw (Ibid.).

1797 Encycl. Brit. (ed. 3) XII. 79/1 What we call amethyst root, or *mother of amethyst, is but a sparry fluor, of which we have plenty in Derbyshire. 1668 Charleton Onomasticon 143 Trachurus‥the *Mother of Anchovies. 1727–52 Chambers Cycl. s.v. Clove, *Mother of cloves. 1867 W. W. Smyth Coal & Coal-mining 34 Soft mineral charcoal or ‘mother-of-coal’. 1879 Congress. Rec. 10 Jan. 413/2 To pour out the vials of his impotent wrath upon the ‘*Mother of Commonwealths’. 1797 Encycl. Brit. (ed. 3) VI. 567/2 Hence the green cochle spar brought from Egypt may have obtained the name of *mother of emeralds. 1596 Raleigh Discov. Guiana To Rdr., In Guiana‥the rocks‥are in effect thorow-shining‥which being tried to be no Marcasite‥but are no other then El [sic] madre del oro‥the *mother of golde, or as it is saide by others the scum of golde. 1712 E. Cooke Voy. S. Sea 26, I am of Opinion there is also Gold in the Island because we took up the Mother of Gold in several places by the Water-side. 1836 A. E. Bray Tamar & Tavy I. xviii. 318 *Mother of millions, with its numerous small drooping flowers. 1794 W. Hutchinson Hist. Cumbld. I. Catal. Anim. etc. 52 Heterogeneous Iron Ores, Calx of Iron, mixed with calcareous earth. Sparry Iron Ore.‥ Miners call it *mother of the mine. 1613 Purchas Pilgrimage (1614) 13 The silent Moone; which‥is Queene of the Night,‥*Mother of moneths. 1820 Shelley Witch of Atlas 73 Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent Her bow beside the folding-star. 1865 J. Bright in Birmingham Daily Post 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 Encycl. Brit. 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 Daily Mirror 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 Fowler Mod. Eng. Usage 548/1 Mother of Parliaments (British Parliament). 1974 Times 24 Aug. 2/4 France Soir‥went on to explain why in the country of the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ social tension has grown. 1827 A. Sherwood Gaz. Georgia 98 James Monroe‥was born in Va., the *mother of Presidents. 1897 Chicago Record 8 Mar. 4/1 Ohio may claim to take rank with Virginia as a ‘mother of presidents’. 1904 N.Y. Tribune 12 June 8 Virginia concluded not to indorse any candidate. The ‘Mother of Presidents’ is a trifle particular. 1948 Chicago Daily News 21 Apr. 1/5 Ohio is the mother of Presidents, and Taft is one of her sons. 1834 W. A. Caruthers Kentuckian in N.Y. ii. 195 Virginia has been the *mother of states. 1838 Yale Lit. Mag. III. 86 To thee, Mother of States! to thee, good old Connecticut, do our praises most belong. 1855 Southern Lit. Messenger XXI. 675/1 Virginia‥[was] hailed as ‘the Mother of States’. [1731 P. Miller Gardeners Dict. s.v. Linaria, The first of these Plants [sc. common yellow toad-flax] grows in great Plenty upon the Sides of dry Banks in most Parts of England and is seldom cultivated in Gardens, for it is a very troublesome Plant to keep within Bounds, the roots being very apt to spread under-ground, and rise at a great Distance from the Mother Plant, whereby it greatly injures whatever Plants stand near it.] 1855 A. Pratt Flowering Plants & Ferns Gt. Brit. IV. 126 This plant [sc. Linaria cymbalaria] is familiarly known to many persons by the name of *Mother of Thousands. 1866 Treas. Bot. 684/1 Linaria Cymbalaria, Ivy-leaved Toadflax or *Mother-of-thousands, is frequent on‥old garden walls. 1910 T. W. Sanders Window & Indoor Gardening xi. 111 Ivy-leaved Pelargoniums‥make delightful basket plants.‥ So, too, [do] Saxifraga sarmentosa (Mother-o'-Thousands or Wandering Jew). 1952 A. R. Clapham et al. Flora Brit. Is. 713 H[elxine] soleirolii Req. Mind-your-own-business, Mother of thousands.‥ Naturalized on walls and damp banks. 1958 N. & Q. Sept. 411/2 Have your readers ever heard of a plant called ‘Mother of Thousands’ or ‘Wandering Sailor’? Ibid. Oct. 452/1 Mother of thousands.‥ I believe this plant is Saxifraga sarmentosa. Ibid. Nov. 488/2 ‘Mother of thousands’.‥ The name is given to the Ivy-leaved Toad-flax which is also known as ‘Mother of Millions’. 1961 Countryman LVIII. iii. 547 Mother of-thousands (ivy-leaved toadflax). 1971 K. G. Messenger Flora of Rutland 69/1 S[oleirolia] soleirolii.‥ Mother-of-Thousands.‥ Pavements, Uppingham, 1961.‥ Intrusive alien. 1975 Times 22 Nov. 10/5 The elegant climber‥the mother of thousands‥produces small plantlets on thread-like runners. 1876 Hardwicke's Science Gossip 39 Veronica hederifolia is named by farmers [near Kelso] the ‘*mother-of-wheat’.