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A.Word.A.Day--materteral

Pronunciation RealAudio

materteral (muh-TUHR-tuhr-uhl) adjective, also materterine

Characteristic of, or in the manner of, an aunt.

[From classical Latin matertera (maternal aunt), from mater (mother).]

This word is the feminine counterpart of the word avuncular (like an uncle). The word materteral has its origin in maternal aunt, but now it could be applied to aunts on both sides, just as the word aunt originally meant paternal aunt, from Latin amita (father's sister), from amare (to love), but now applies to aunts of all kinds.

"K and P's (Katharina and Petruchio's) first kiss, at the end of 5.1, started out merely dutiful on both sides but turned evidently passionate and went on for what seemed a very long time, and was repeated for even longer at the end of the play, as the other actors not only left the stage but cleared it of the banquet furniture and props and left the couple still glued to one another as the lights came down. Most of us smiled on with avuncular or materteral approval."
David Evett; Shrew Productions; Shakesper; Oct 3, 1994.

"With maternal and materteral anxiety."
W. Taylor; Monthly Review; 1823. (Quoted in the OED)

This week's theme: words about relations.

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