1. Relating to or characteristic of a mother or motherhood; motherly: maternal instinct.
2. Inherited from one's mother: a maternal trait.
3. Related through one's mother: my maternal uncle.
[Middle English, from Old French maternel, from Medieval Latin māternālis, from Latin māternus, from māter, mother; see māter- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.