Online Encyclopedia

MOTHER

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 906 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MOTHER, the term for the female parent of a child. The word, like father, is common to Indo-European languages, cf. in Teutonic languages, Ger. Mutter, Du. moeder, Swed. and Dan. moder; Gothic is the exception in Teutonic languages, the word being aithei, cf. atta, father; from Lat. mater come, in Romanic, Fr. mere, Ital., Span. and Port., madre. Greek has µ'rqp, (Attic and Ionic), µargp (Doric). The Russian word is mat. The Sansk. mata points to an original derivation from a stem ma, to measure, or make. Of the many transferred applications of " mother " may be mentioned those to the church, to nature, to the earth, and to a city or nation, as the parent of other cities, nations, colonies, &c. As a title " mother " is particularly applied to the head of a religious community of women. For " mother-of-pearl " see PEARL. There is a particular application of " mother " to the scum which rises to the surface of a liquor during the process of fermentation, and also to a mass of gummy stringy consistency formed in vinegar in the process of acetous fermentation, hence known as " mother of vinegar " (see VINEGAR). This is usually, however, taken to be another word altogether, and connected with Du. modder, mud, mire.
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WILLIAM MOTHERWELL (1797-1835)

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