Middle English Dictionary Entry

mọ̄der n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

1.
(a) A female, human parent; mother; -- also used of a goddess; (b) used of animals and birds; ~ shep, a ewe; (c) in phrases, cpds., and combs.: at my ~, at my mother's house; fro his moder(es wombe, fro the wombe of his ~, from birth; ~ care, a mother's sorrow, ~ fare, a mother's lot; ~ heritage, maternal inheritance; ~ herte; ~ kind(e, a mother's nature.
2.
A female progenitor more remote than a parent, ancestress; alde (nold) ~ [see old moder]; elde ~, q.v.
3.
Applied to the Virgin Mary: (a) as the mother of Jesus; cristes (drihtenes, godes, helendes) ~; (b) as man's spiritual mother; (c) in various attributive phrases, often in direct address: maide ~, ~ maide; maiden (and) ~, ~ and mai, ~ (and) maiden; ~ mary; ~ of blisse (delice, grace, lif, love, merci, milce, mildenesse); etc.
4.
(a) A woman, not related by blood, who assumes the role of, or is regarded as, a mother; foster mother; ?also, a matron [quot.: (a1382)]; foster ~ [see foster n. (1) 4.]; god ~, q.v.; (b) an abbess, the mother superior of a religious house; (c) a respectful term of address or courtesy title for a mature or an elderly woman; a term for an old woman of lower class; also, a derogatory term for a girl or young woman, wench.
5.
Fig. Something, more or less personified, that fulfills some of the functions of a mother (procreative, nutritive, protective); something regarded with the affection or reverence due a mother: (a) the heavenly Jerusalem; the Church; a university; gostli (holi) ~, ~ holi Chirche; (b) the earth; nature; a city, country, natural object, physical quality, human activity, etc., regarded as engendering or nourishing (sth.); also, anything pre-eminent in its class; ~ of herbes, queen of plants; (c) a virtue, vice, condition, or other personified abstraction, regarded as giving rise to or encouraging others of its kind; seven ~ sunnen, the seven deadly sins; (d) alch. a cryptic term for sophic mercury, believed to be one of the two principal ingredients of the philosopher's stone.
6a.
Anat. and med. The uterus of a woman, womb; also fig.; the reproductive organs or genitalia of a female animal; causes (passiounes) of the ~, diseases of the uterus; risinge of the ~, suffocacioun of the ~, a disturbance or disorder of the uterus.
6b.
Anat. hard ~, the dura mater, the outermost membranous envelope of the brain [see also hard adj. 1b. (c) and dura mater]; milde ~, the pia mater, the innermost membranous envelope of the brain [see also milde adj. 5. (d) and pia mater]; sefte ~, softe ~, ?mistranslation of L dura mater; pl. modres, the dura mater and the pia mater.
7.
Astron. The principal part of an astrolabe, consisting of a heavy circular metal plate, suspended from the thumb by a ring, on which are described a series of concentric circles marked with various divisions.
8.
In cpds. & combs.: (a) ~ barn (child) [cp. OE mōdorcild], a human being; man; moder(es sone, a man; ~ sone fairest, Jesus; (b) ~ burgh (cite), a chief city, capital; ~ of cites, ?a city which has dependent villages; ~ dam, a main dam; ~ ston, some kind of building stone; (c) ~ chirche, a parish church as opposed to a chapel of ease; also, the chief church of a region or country, a cathedral; ~ cathedral chirche; (d) ~ half [OE mōdor-healf], moder(es side, the mother's side of one's family or lineage; moder(es kin, ~ stren, the mother's race, maternal line; in (on, upon) his ~ half [see also half n. 3.], o ~ half, in (of, on) the ~ side, bi (of) the moderes side, etc.; of ~ stren; (e) moder(es langage, moder tonge, one's native language [see also langage 1. (a)]; ~ english tonge; (f) ~ naked, as naked as at birth, stark naked; (g) math. ~ nombre, a number to be divided, dividend [see also nombre]; (h) ~ queller (sleere), a matricide; ~ quellinge, matricide; (i) moder(es wit, native intelligence, common sense.
9.
In place names and surnames.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • (?1440) Palladius (DukeH d.2)4.149 : Yeerly from the codde awey let take The plauntes, lest their moder feynted be.
  • Note: Sense not covered in MED entry 'stock that produces young plants'--per MJW.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: Med., etc., see further J.Norri, Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary, s.v. mother.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: Med., etc. (sense 6.(b)), see further J.Norri, Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary, s.v. hard mother.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: Med., etc. (sense 6.(b)), see further J.Norri, Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary, s.v. mild mother.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: Med., etc. (sense 6.(b)), see further J.Norri, Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary, s.v. soft mother.