Last modified on 4 September 2014, at 03:02





  1. Present participle of mother.


mothering (countable and uncountable, plural motherings)

  1. The nurturing of a child by its mother.
    • 1996, Rachel Bowlby, Feminist Destinations and Further Essays on Virginia Woolf
      The unification or bringing together of disparate things [] which Mrs Ramsay seeks to achieve by marryings and motherings []
  2. The protective behaviour of a mother towards her child.
  3. Nurturing or protective behaviour reminiscent of that performed by a literal mother.
    • 1912 Volume 24, “The Mother's Pension Law”, The Journal of the International Brotherhood of Boiler Makers, page 1025: 
      The institution in the past has done monumental work harboring the homeless, mothering the homeless, mothering the motherless, caring for the poor and dependent
    • 1970 July 31, Leonard McCombe, “Big business tangles with day care problems”, LIFE magazine, page 45: 
      "If we must choose between teaching and mothering," says one teacher, "we take care of mothering first."
  4. (obsolete) Shortened form of a-mothering (obsolete); practice of visiting one's literal or figurative mother or mother church (compare Mothering Sunday).
    • 1905, John Brand, William Carew Hazlitt, “National Faiths”, in Faiths and folklore: a dictionary of national beliefs, Vol 2[1], page 424:
      Mothering-.—In former days, when the Roman Catholic was the established religion, it was the custom for people to visit their Mother Church on MidLent Sunday, and to make their offerings at the high altar. ...the now remaining practice of Mothering, or going to visit parents upon Mid-Lent Sunday, is really owing to that good old custom.
    • 1894 March 1894, Volume 21, Part 1, Mary B. Merrill, “Mothering Sunday”, St. Nicholas: a monthly magazine for boys and girls, page 388: 
      "Mothering Sunday," the fourth Sunday in Lent, when absent sons and daughters — particularly the young apprentices — would return to their homes with some little present for both parents, but more especially for the mother. ...Imagine the ... pride of the mother in the simple gift, and the admiration of the small brothers and sisters who gathered around and longed for the time when they also would be out in the great unknown world and could come "a-mothering."