Etymology
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maternal (adj.)

late 15c., "of or pertaining to a mother or motherhood; characteristic of mothers," from Old French maternel (14c.), from Vulgar Latin *maternalis, from Latin māternus "maternal, of a mother," from māter "mother" (see mother (n.1)). From 1650s as "inherited or derived from a mother;" by 1784 as "motherly, having the instincts of a mother." Related: Maternally.

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Definitions of maternal

maternal (adj.)
related on the mother's side;
my maternal grandmother
Synonyms: enate / enatic
maternal (adj.)
characteristic of a mother; "warm maternal affection for her guest"- Dorothy Sayers;
maternal (adj.)
relating to or derived from one's mother;
maternal genes
maternal (adj.)
relating to or characteristic of or befitting a parent;
Synonyms: parental / paternal
From wordnet.princeton.edu