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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.
    • 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, 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.