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.
updated on December 04, 2018
Dictionary entries near maternal