Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English eldmoder, from Old English ealdmōdor (grandmother), equivalent to eld (old) +‎ mother. Cognate with Scots eldmoder, eldmother (mother-in-law), Old Frisian aldmōder, aldemōder (grandmother).


eldmother (plural eldmothers)

  1. (dialectal, now archaic) One's grandmother or other female ancestor, or one's mother-in-law.
    • 2011, Pati Nagle, Heart of the Exiled:
      She was his kindred now, being Eliani's eldermother. Smiling at the thought, he hastened into the palace and down to the council chamber, hoping he was not late for the session.
    • 1571 November 5, John Heworth of Gatisheid, Will, in Wills and Inventories from the Registry at Durham (1835):
      Item I gyve vnto my eldmother his wyffe my wyffes froke and a read petticote and a smoke.
    • 1586 July 15, Isabel Chamber against John Robson in Causa Defamationis, in Depositions and Other Ecclesiastical Proceedings from the Courts ... of Durham (1845):
      John Morpeth [...] saith that, on Sondaie last [...] the said John Robson said to the said Arthure, "Thou haiest a witch to thy eldmother[.]"

See alsoEdit


  • Language in Scotland: Corpus-based Studies (2013, ISBN 940120974X), page 159: Eldmother 'grandmother' has a similar range of dates, with no citations for 'mother-in-law' but a meaning of 'step-mother' surviving in Scots and northern English use until 1864.