Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A mother is typically the biological or social female parent of a child or offspring while the male parent is the father. The maternal bond describes the feelings the mother has for her (or another's) child.
In the case of a mammal such as a human, the mother gestates her child (called first an embryo, then a fetus) in the womb from conception until the fetus is sufficiently well-developed to be born. The mother then goes into labour and gives birth. Once the child is born, the mother's breasts produce milk to feed the child.
In non-sexual organisms, "mother" can sometimes be used to mean "parent"; in the case of single-celled organisms that reproduce by fission, the mother is a cell that divides to produce "daughters".
Mothers typically have a very important role in raising children, and the title mother can be given to a woman other than a biological parent who fills this role. This is most commonly either an adoptive parent or a stepmother (the wife of a child's father). The term can also refer to a person with stereotypical traits of a mother.
Mom, mommy, mama, ma, mummy, and mum are some familiar or colloquial words for a mother. Many times these terms denote affection or a maternal role in a child's life: "anyone can be a mother, but it takes someone special to be a Mum". As such, someone can be a mother and not a mum, or a mum and not a mother.
In contemporary society, single motherhood, the state of an unmarried mother, has become a serious social issue.
The term "mother" is also used in the following contexts:
- metaphor that means:
- source or creator, as in the phrase "Necessity is the mother of invention", or "mother country" in reference to a colony;
- precursor, as in mother of pearl;
- superior in hierarchy, as in "mother ship";
- first in a person's life, as in mother tongue;
- main or primary, as in motherboard and the "mother of all wars".
- a title or polite form of address to a spiritual mother in Christianity, such as an abbess or the wife of a priest
- Mother (neopaganism)
- mother of vinegar
- Mother video game
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