"mother;" "village elder"
11th cent. From Latin matrem
'id.,' accusative of mater
From Proto-Italic *mātēr
'id.' From Proto-Indo-European *méh2-tēr
'id.' From *meh2-
, a root of unknown meaning. Perhaps originally meaning "mother" with *-tēr
added by analogy with *ph2ter
"father" (see padre
As a surname de la Madre, perhaps originally given to individuals in reference to the tertiary meaning of madre: terrain cut by a brook or a river. Equally plausible, however, is that it was given in devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus in Christianity.
Western Vulgar Latin: Asturian madre, Portuguese mãe, Galician mai, Catalan mare, French mère, Italian madre
Oscan maatreís "of the mother," Umbrian matres 'id.,' Faliscan mate "mother," South Picene matereíh "to the mother"
Celtic: Old Irish máithir "mother," Germanic: Old High German muoter 'id.,' Balto-Slavic: Old Church Slavonic mati "mother," Lithuanian mótė 'id.,' Albanian: motër "sister;" Hellenic: Ancient Greek μήτηρ (méter) "mother;" Armenian: mayr "mother;" Indo-Iranian: Sanskrit mātár- "mother," Avestan mātar- 'id.;' Tocharian: A mācar "mother," B mācer 'id.'
According to Benveniste (1973), in Indo-European society, the woman who raised the child was called *anna, while the woman with the official title of mother was *māter. This was paralleled in men as well: the man who raised the child was *atta, while the biological father was *pəter.