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9 Monumental Words To Call Your Mom Besides “Mother”

Mother. It’s a role as old as time, and while we have a dictionary definition of what it means to be a mother (of course, we do!), all mothers aren’t the same nor are the words we use to address them or speak about them. There are a host of synonyms for mother (and the roles mothers play) that we can use when we talk about the women who raise children.

Click through to see some of our favorites … and find a few that may expand your vocabulary too.

mother

Let’s start with the mother ship, if you will.

Evidence of the word mother itself can be traced back to before the year 900. In Old English, the term modor was used to address any older woman, particularly those who were considered to be in a lower class. Today mother can be used as a noun, adjective, or verb. The word is believed to stem from the natural “ma” sound babies make.

Evidence of the use of mama in English doesn’t appear until much later than mother—in the 1540s. This informal term for mother, which can be spelled with an additional M as well (mamma), is also used as a slang term for an attractive woman.

A popular variant of the word—mommy—is an Americanism, which can be traced back to early 1900.

 

Do you know why babies start with “mama” to begin with? Take a look at our article and see!

progenitor

While the first definition of progenitor is pretty basic—“a biologically related ancestor”—the word has a certain kind of superhero ring to it. The second definition is also quite fitting for moms: “a person or thing that first indicates a direction, originates something, or serves as a model; predecessor; precursor.”

Progenitor entered English around 1350–1400 from the Latin word prōgenitor, which means “the founder of a family.” The word genitor also means “parent,” but it’s used more frequently to refer to a father more than a mother.

matriarch

If you want to get more formal, you may refer to a mother as a matriarch. Defined as a “female head of family or tribal line,” first evidence of the word can be found around 1600.

It’s made up of two combining forms: matri- (meaning “mother”) and -arch (meaning “chief, leader, ruler”). When a family, society, or other group is led by women, it’s called a matriarchy as opposed to a patriarchy, which is one led by men.

Additional synonyms for matriarch include regal-sounding ones such as dame, dowager, and dignified woman.

nurturer

The first definition of the verb nurture is “to feed and protect,” which sums up a mom’s job quite well. The second and third definitions are spot on as well: “to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster” and “to bring up; train; educate.” Check, check, and check.

Nurture, which entered English around 1350–1400, comes from the Latin word nūtrīre, which means “to feed.”

architect

While most moms aren’t designing any buildings, it’s the third definition of the word architect that fits to a T: “the deviser, maker, or creator of anything.”

Because they make everything from dinner to play-date plans (and about a million things in between), many moms can definitely add architect to their unofficial résumé. Entering English around the mid-1500s, architect is derived from the Greek combining forms archi- (meaning “first or principal”) and tektōn (“craftsman or builder”).

Other synonyms for architect seem equally fitting for moms, including originator and prime mover.

bulwark

They call human moms mama bears for a reasons. They are fierce protectors of their little ones. Try to break their baby’s heart and hear them roar! But we think bulwark, a synonym for protector, is even more fierce.

The word bulwark comes from Germanic roots equivalent to the English bole (“stem or trunk of a tree”) and work, as in a constructed thing. So, a bulwark is thought to originally mean “a defensive work made from tree trunks.”

This makes more sense when we consider the first definition of the word: “a wall of earth or other material built for defense; rampart.” Bulwark has been recorded since the 1400s.

saint

While canonization isn’t likely, many people (teenagers aside) would say their moms are saints. The second definition of saint—”a person of great holiness, virtue, or benevolence”—is definitely befitting many a mom.

The word saint comes from the Latin word sānctus, meaning “sacred.” A synonym for saint, the phrase glorified soul is another one you might want to work into that Mother’s Day card.

indomitable

No one is more indomitable than a mother going to bat for one of her children. This adjective means “that cannot be subdued or overcome, as persons, will, or courage; unconquerable,” and anyone who has gone up against a mom on a mission knows it well.

Indomitable comes from a Latin word meaning “untamed.” It entered English sometime around 1625–35.

superwoman

Though not officially a synonym, perhaps the most fitting word of all for mom is superwoman. Talk about superpowers! Who but a mom can smell a dirty diaper from miles away and save the day with just the right words? OK, many dads can too, but for now we’re talking moms, and we think most of them deserve a cape.

Super- means “above” or “beyond,” and if the super skills of potty training and coaching kids through puberty don’t go above and beyond the call of any duty, we don’t know what does.

Some of the synonyms for superwoman are pretty apropos too: headliner, leading lady, and superstar.

human

Even though the word human might contradict what we just said about moms, it’s important to include on this list. As we lavish praise on our moms, let’s not forget one detail: no matter how many hours they parent and nurture and rescue (and parent again), they’re only human.

As an adjective, human can mean “having the attributes of man as opposed to animals, divine beings, or machines,” a description that suits mothers perfectly. (They’re not—please repeat with us—machines. So help out with the laundry, OK?) The word human is first recorded in English around 1350. It comes from the Latin hūmānus, which is related to the Latin homō or “man.”

While we’re all for praising moms for being amazing, sweet, and generous (go on—use all the synonyms), let’s also give them the very well-deserved, very human break they need!

 

Now put it all together with tips for writing a heartfelt Mother’s Day card, and bring a smile (and maybe a tear!) to her face.