MOTHER, the term for the female parent of a child. The word, like father, is common to Indo-European languages, cf. in Teutonic languages, Ger. Mutter, Du. moeder, Swed. and Dan. moder; Gothic is the exception in Teutonic languages, the word being aithei, cf. atta, father; from Lat. mater come, in Romanic, Fr. mere, Ital., Span, and Port., madre. Greek has nrrnjp, (Attic and Ionic), fiarr/p (Doric). The Russian word is mat. The Sansk. mala points to an original derivation from a stem ma, to measure, or make. Of the many transferred applications of " mother " may be mentioned those to the church, to nature, to the earth, and to a city or nation, as the parent of other cities, nations, colonies, etc. As a title " mother " is particularly applied to the head of a religious community of women. For " mother-of-pearl " see PEARL. There is a particular application of " mother " to the scum which rises to the surface of a liquor during the process of fermentation, and also to a mass of gummy stringy consistency formed in vinegar in the process of acetous fermentation, hence known as " mother of vinegar " (see VINEGAR). This is usually, however, taken to be another word altogether, and connected with Du. madder, mud, mire.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)