a school you graduated from
In the spring of 1940, at the end of a busy school day, Katherine was surprised to find Dr. Davis, the president of her
, waiting outside her classroom.Hidden Figures
alma (nourish) +
Originally this phrase referred to ancient Roman goddesses such as Ceres and Cybele, who embodied both agricultural and biological fertility. Over the course of the 18th century, it came to denote a person’s university — that is, where you were "nurtured" as a student.
an unaccompanied partsong for several voices
Mr. Gardiner said both the
and operas still speak directly to audiences more than four centuries later thanks to an emotional range that was unparalleled at the time.New York Times (Jul 24, 2017)
māter (origin, mother ) +
al (of, belonging to)
madrigal is a short love poem or a simple song usually sung by two to eight voices unaccompanied by instruments.
Madregal is thought to come from a 14th-century Venetian dialect and to ultimately derive from Late Latin
matricalis, "maternal, natural, primitive."
the substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object
“This edge,” said Giacomo Paradisi, touching the steel with the handle of a spoon, “will cut through any
in the world. Look.”The Subtle Knife
māter (origin, mother) +
ial (of, relating to)
Material is loaded with meanings. As a noun, it can refer to "the substance from which something is made." This meaning relates to
māter in the sense of "origin":
material is the substance that creates or forms something.
the state of being pregnant
Judy Chicago’s Birth Project: Born Again Exhibition features textile and needlepoint pieces, created by Chicago and her collaborators in the 1980s, that explore
maternity, motherhood, femaleness and gender.
māter (womb, mother) +
-ity (quality of being)
Maternity can refer to "the state of being pregnant," but these days it's commonly used as a synonym for "the state of being a mother; motherhood." The word is also used as an attributive adjective in phrases like "maternity clothes" or "maternity leave."
a female head of a family or tribe
mātri- (Latin: mother) +
-arch (Greek: ruler)
The English word
matriarch is formed from a combination of Greek and Latin roots. This word was first used in 17th-century Europe and was abstracted from
patriarch — which, as you may have guessed, means “a man who heads a family or tribe.”
the murder of one's own mother
He read up on
, the crime of killing one's mother, political prisoners, "lying in state", coffins and arrangements for a pauper's funeral.BBC (Nov 23, 2016)
mātri- (mother) +
Matricide is a noun that describes both the act of killing one's mother and the person who kills his or her mother. Both meanings came into use between the 1590s and 1630s. In the Old English, the equivalent word was
moðorslaga, or "mother-slayer."
enroll as a student
mātrīc- (register, list) +
-ula (forming nouns)
Matriculate is both a noun and a verb — so if you're a matriculate, you have matriculated. In Latin,
matricula referred to a public register and derived from
matricis, "list" or "source or womb." In the 16th century,
matricis came to mean “a place where something is developed,” which in turn led to the modern meaning of
state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life
The writing is by turns confident and questioning, as the speaker considers the promise of
— lifelong contentment and security — and its realities.Washington Post (Jul 27, 2018)
mātri- (mother) +
-monium (action, state, condition)
marriage come from the 12th-century French
matremonie, "property inherited from one's mother," which in turn derives from Latin
matrimonium ("wedlock, marriage"). Remember that
matrimony joins not only two people but also their property!
an enclosure within which something originates or develops
“Employees who think they’re sharing unimportant information don’t realize that they’re adding to a broad
matrix of knowledge,’’ Mr. Campbell said.
mātrīx (breeding female animal)
māter (mother) +
The etymology of
matrix is contested, but one thing is clear: the root
mātri- is in there! How did we get from the idea of "an animal that breeds" to "an enclosure in which something develops" or "a computer-simulated reality"? The meanings of
matrix have evolved, but they all relate to the idea of something that encompasses something else.
a married woman who is staid and dignified
“She sounds like magic,” the town
sighed, and then Xan shot them a poisonous look, at which they started mumbling about the weather.The Girl Who Drank the Moon
mātri- (mother) +
The root form of this word originally meant "married woman," but by the 14th century, it could also refer to an elderly lady, a female patron, or a midwife. The sense of a "female manager (as of a school or hospital)" was first recorded in the 1550s. In the U.S., a "matron of honor" is a wedding attendant who is already married.
a name derived from the name of your mother or a maternal ancestor
The name Abraham he received from his grandfather, but it was early dropped, and he was always known by his
Albert.Stevens, John Austin
mātr- (mother) +
-onymic (Latin and Greek)
Matronymic is formed by analogy from
patronymic, meaning "derived from or like a father's name." Both words are a hybrid of Greek and Latin. The root
nym, meaning "name," is also found in words like
that which has mass and occupies space
The end game is to map the boundaries that separate life from non-living
.Nature (Nov 7, 2018)
māter (mother) +
-ia (ending for abstract nouns)
matter has a range of meanings. Its relation to
māter comes from its simplest definition: "physical material or substance": a mother's womb is where formation and development occur, and matter is that which forms or composes a physical object or substance.
a large and densely populated urban area
mētropolis (Latin) and
Metropolis derives from Latin and Greek words meaning a "capital city," as well as a "see of a bishop." In Greek,
mátr- (mother) +
pόlis (city) referred to the "mother city of a colony."
a woman who has given birth to a child
“Whatever you do, Dimple, I am your
. I will always support you. I am always proud of you. Okay?”When Dimple Met Rishi
mōdēr (Germanic: mother)
Other words on this list derive from the Greek and Latin words for "mother," but the English-speaking world gets the spelling and pronunciation of "mother" from its Germanic roots. One theory posits that
mā (baby-talk syllables) were added to the kinship-term suffix
-ter to bring this important word together.