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mother


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The word is of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin mater and Greek mētēr.

like mother, like daughter proverbial saying, early 14th century; the ultimate allusion is a biblical one, to Ezekiel 16:44, ‘As is the mother, so is her daughter’. (Compare like father, like son.)

Mother Church the Church considered as a final arbiter.

Mother Earth the earth considered as the source of all its living beings and inanimate things, a phrase representing a personification recorded from the mid 16th century.

mother goddess a mother-figure deity, a central figure of many early nature cults where maintenance of fertility was of prime religious importance. Examples of such goddesses include Isis, Astarte, Cybele, and Demeter.

Mother Goose an old woman said to be the source of traditional nursery rhymes; she is often depicted as flying on the back of a gander. The name first appears in the title of Mother Goose's Melody; or Sonnets from the Cradle, published by John Newbery in 1781, but probably compiled around 1760. The ultimate origin is likely to be a fairy tale by Charles Perrault, Contes de ma mère l'oye [Tales of Mother Goose], a French expression meaning ‘old wives' tale’. The American tradition that the real Mother Goose was an Elizabeth Goose, an inhabitant of Boston, is not substantiated.

Mother of God a name given to the Virgin Mary (as mother of the divine Christ).

the mother of mischief is no bigger than a midge's wing the origin of difficulties can be very small; proverbial saying, early 17th century.

Mother of Parliaments the British parliament, an expression coined by the English liberal politician and reformer John Bright (1811–89).

Mother-of-pearl a smooth shining iridescent substance forming the inner layer of the shell of some molluscs, especially oysters and abalones, used in ornamentation.

Mother's Day a day of the year on which mothers are particularly honoured by their children. In North America it is the second Sunday in May; in Britain it has become another term for Mothering Sunday.

Mother Shipton a legendary English seer said to have lived in the 16th century; the earliest reference to her is found in an anonymous tract of 1641, claiming that she had foretold the deaths of Cardinal Wolsey and others, as well as making other predictions. The pamphlet was widely circulated, and Mother Shipton's prophetic powers became proverbial.Her prophecies were subsequently frequently reprinted and added to; a version in 1862 included some verses (actually written by Charles Hindley) implying that she had foretold the invention of the steam-engine, the electric telegraph, and the end of the world (in 1881).

Her name has been given to a day-flying European moth with a marking on the wing that is said to resemble the crone-like profile of the seer.

See also earth mother, Great Mother at great, mother's milk, Old Mother Hubbard at old, praise the child and you make love to the mother.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.


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