Green’s Dictionary of Slang

mother n.

1. in senses referring to a woman or female occupations.

(a) a madam, a bawd, a procuress; often comb. with a proper name as Mother —.

[UK]G. Walker Detection of Vyle and Detestable Use of Dice Play 35: This mother baud undertook to serve his turn [...] having at home a well-painted, mannerly harlot, as good a maid as Fletcher’s mare.
L. Wager Life and Repentence of Marie Magdalene D2: When ye are come to be an old maude, Then it will be best for you to play the baude. In our countrey there be such olde mother bees, Which are glad to cloke baudry for their fees.
[UK]A. Munday Death of Huntington in Dodsley Old Plays VIII V i: Good bawd, good mother B.
R. West Court of Conscience E4v: Mother Breton [lives] i’ the lane that leads to spittlefeild.
[UK]J. Shirley Lady of Pleasure IV i: One word, Mother; have not you been a cat in your days?
Wandring-Whores Complaint 3: Ruth. How do you now Mother? Bawd. Very well.
[UK]Elegy on the Death of Trade in Harleian Misc. II (1809) 290: A worthy old dame, Mother Trade was her name.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Mother a Bawd.
[UK]C. Walker Authentick Memoirs of Sally Salisbury 118: This the officious obliging Mother observes, and [...] sends one of her Nuns to fetch a Night-Gown.
[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 48: Together with Mother Bitchington’s crying out, Why you pocky Toad, do you think the Gentleman came here without Breeches?
[UK]Hell upon Earth 9: The celebrated Mother H—y—d Cursing, Rending, and Roaring [...] to drown the Cries and Groans of departing Maidenheads.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Machine 10: Let not the Joy she proffers be Essay’d, / Without the well-try’d cundum’s friendly Aid, / By trusty Mother Lewis best supplie’d.
E. Thompson Demi-Rep 6: Mother griffiths, bawdy Matron.
[UK]Nancy Dawson’s Jests 11: The famous, or rather the infamous mother Cole, of bawdy memory, was dying.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Mother, or the mother, a bawd.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Aug. II 307/2: Mother Johnson, the King’s-place abbess, and one of the most notorious purveyors of that celebrated flesh-market.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ A Dict. of the Turf, The Ring, The Chase, etc. 5: Aunt — a bawd or old procuress, or hanger-on upon w—s, sometimes called Mammy or Mother —.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 272: She was unfortunately met by some of her female companions in vice, in company with Old Mother —, well known in the annals of infamy.
[UK] ‘Mother Jones’ Ticklish Minstrel 35: There’s a bawdy-house keeper I admire [...] And sweet mother Jones is the shickster I love.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 25 Mar. 2/1: His sister, Mother Samuels, is well known to have more girls lag’d out of her crib than any baud in Shoemaker’s Row.
[UK]New Sprees of London 33: This street is full of knocking shops of rather a low character [...] A niece of the late Mother Mendoza also has a crib here, which is conducted pretty fairish.
[UK]Paul Pry (London) 15 Aug. n.p.: [of a woman working for a rich courtesan] The mother, who goes by the name of Ann Rogers, acts as housekeeper, and receives a salary for her multifarious services.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 289: Of course I didn’t have ten pounds, nor ten shillings hardly; but Mother H— said that she would lend the money.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 2: Abesse f. The mistress of a brothel; ‘mother’.
[US]G.J. Kneeland Commercialized Prostitution in N.Y. City 92: It is not uncommon for the girls as well as the customers to call her ‘mother’.
[UK]T. Croft Cloven Hoof 123: He hammered upon that brothel door. [...] An old woman whom Olaf kissed resoundingly and styled ‘mother’, opened the door and led us in.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Prostitutes & Criminal Argots’ in Lang. Und. (1981) 117/2: landlady. Proprietress of a house. Also aunt, madam, mother.

(b) a public house landlady or similar.

[UK]M. Scott Tom Cringle’s Log (1862) 221: Twelve times five is half-a-crown; there’s a dollar for you, old mother Popandchokem – now give me back five shillings [Ibid.] 226: Here, old Mother Slush [...] Hand us up a dozen bottles of spruce, do you hear? [Ibid.] 239: Pickled mackerel, eggs, and cold tongue – anything that mother Dingychops can give us.
[UK]Paul Pry 19 Mar. 1/2: [T]he puritanical cove [...] being no less an individual than the landlord, old Jack Crouch, formerly a footman to a fat fidgetty old dowager, where his finical manners amongst the servants obtained for him the name of Miss Crouch, and afterwards generally known at the West-end of the town as old Mother Crouch.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 63: Mother Gapp, the landlady, hung hysterical on the beer-pulls in the bar.
[UK]W. Besant Orange Girl I 236: Your place stinks, mother [...] and it’s so thick with tobacco and the steam of the punch that a body can’t see across.
[US]N. Anderson Hobo 139: ‘Mother’ Greenstein, who keeps a restaurant on South State Street, is the idol of a great many ‘bos’.

(c) one’s wife.

[UK]‘Bartimeus’ ‘Great Security’ in Great Security 43: ‘Mother,’ he said abruptly, ‘I’m goin’ foreign.’.
[Aus]D. Stivens Tramp and Other Stories 176: ‘You come inside,’ she said, ‘if you get cold — won’t you, Faither?’ They always addressed each other in this way. ‘Yes, Moither,’ the old man said.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Caught (2001) 36: I said to the Mrs, I says, ‘Well, mother, your old man’s in trouble again.’.

(d) (also muzzer) the self-proclaimed name of a female owner of a pet, esp. a dog; thus Come to mother, baby.

[UK]Wodehouse Clicking of Cuthbert 197: He [i.e. a dog] was his muzzer’s pet, he was.
[UK] Galsworthy White Monkey 41: There’s Ting and a cat! [...] Give him to me, Ellen. Come with Mother, darling!
[UK]N. Mitford Pigeon Pie 139: Many mothers of dogs had fetched their little ones home.

(e) (US black) a married woman.

[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: mother n. […] 2. an aware married lady; e.g. Mother is really together.

(f) (US black) the senior member of a pimp’s stable of whores.

[US]J.L. Dillard Lex. Black Eng. 88: The most trusted one – often the oldest in his service and not necessarily the most beautiful or the favorite – is the bottom whore, bottom woman, bottom bitch, or main lady and is given a certain amount of authority over her ‘sisters.’ She is also sometimes called Mother.

(g) used as a female self-reference.

[US]W. Kotzwinkle Midnight Examiner (1990) 172: Howard, Mother has made a tragic discovery. I’ve spent my life in the wrong profession.

2. the ultimate example of something, the extreme version of something, something exceptional [popularized in the 1990s as mockery of the hyperbolic use of the phr. mother of all battles by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (1937–2006) to describe the Gulf War, 1991].

[[UK]Hist. of Edward II (1680) 46: We leave the success to the will of Fortune, who in nothing is more tickle and wanton, than in the event of Battles, which are seldom gain’d by multitude, the Mother of Confusion].
[US]F.H. Hart Sazerac Lying Club 99: I seed the biggest trout I ever laid eyes on [...] The mother of all trouts in Reese River, by thunder!
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘Weepin’ Willie’ in ‘Hello, Soldier!’ 49: But his jills would sniff ’n’ shiver in the mother of a fright.
[Aus]Morn. Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) 1 July n.p.: [heading] Catarrh, the Mother of all Diseases.
[US]L. Hansberry Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window in Three Negro Plays (1969) I i: My brother is the Prince, but your sister is the Mother of them all!
[UK]J. Baker Death Minus Zero (1998) 184: I’ve got the mother of all hangovers.
[Aus]P. Temple Bad Debts (2012) [ebook] It took just under twelve months to set it [i.e. a betting coup] up, but it was the mother of all paydays for Ronnie.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 192: [He] could go anywhere, do anything — build himself a fortress in Idaho, with the mother of all hot tubs!
[UK]Indep. Rev. 27 Mar. 16: The mother of all jazz fusions.

3. in male homosexual contexts, usu. implying effeminacy.

(a) (US black) an effeminate (or homosexual) man.

[US]L. Berg Prison Nurse (1964) 123: Ever since ‘Mother’ Jones came back I’ve learned to look forward to mealtime again. That ‘fag’ can cook like nobody’s business.
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 143: He waved a lace handkerchief at all: – Oh my pets, my pet! Your mother’s awfully late tonight, but she’ll try and make it up to you!
[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 2: This booklet has been procured for you through the kindness of your dear mother (or perhaps, sister).
[UK]J. Orton Diaries (1986) 16 May 168: ‘There was this poor old queen, d’y see? She had nowhere to go.’ [...] ‘Don’t you worry , mother,’ the young queen had said. ‘You can come and live with us.’.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 221: Mother had freaked off with some dirty bastard.

(b) (US gay) a homosexual who introduces another into the gay world.

[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 13: mother: Male who has brought out subject. Also used humorously in conversation or correspondence.
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 30: mother (n.): The older male homosexual, most always effeminate, who assumes a protective or guiding role; this term is somewhat more ‘friendly’ than auntie (q.v.).
[US]K. Marlowe Mr Madam (1967) 28: If you ever need Mother, just call and let me know.
[US]J.P. Stanley ‘Homosexual Sl.’ in AS XLV:1/2 58: mother n Male who brings another male into homosexual society and introduces him around.
[US]H. Max Gay (S)language.

(c) (US gay) a term used by an effeminate gay man to refer to himself, e.g. Your mother….

[US]‘Lou Rand’ Gay Detective (2003) 67: ‘Uh, well, y’ see bos, we just about got here and . . .’ ‘Yes, dear. Mother knows!’.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 330: Ah saw this cute butch numbuh [...] and Ah thought: Well, your muthuh’s gonna go aftuh that one!
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 14: Do you hear Mother bitching? Oh, yes, she is, dear.
[US](con. early 1960s) E. White in N.Y. Rev. Bks 25 Oct. [Internet] I would in effect teach them how to camp—[...] how to refer to oneself (as Auden does in a poem) as ‘Miss Me’ or ‘Your Mother’.

4. (US black) in pl., constr. with the, the ritualistic name-calling based on insulting one’s rival’s mother.

[US](con. WWII) J.O. Killens And Then We Heard The Thunder (1964) 54: I have too much love and respect for women to play the mothers or the dozens or whatever you call it.

5. (also motha, mothah, mudder, mutha) as abbr. of var. senses of motherfucker n.

(a) a person, usu. derog.

[US]S. Whitmore Solo 42: Hell, this mother never could blow.
[US]J. Blake letter 6 Aug. in Joint (1972) 143: They call the spade Steam, and he is a big black mothah.
[US]‘Lord Buckley’ Hiparama of the Classics 24: Yeah, Nero, Was an All High Flip Out in Orbit Mother to End All Mothers.
[US]F. Salas Tattoo the Wicked Cross (1981) 231: I’ll kill that mutha’.
[US]T.C. Bambara ‘Talking Bout Sonny’ in Gorilla, My Love (1972) 80: You’re too damned dead, that’s what. A bottle-tipping vegetable mother.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 131: Them mothas in New York followed me and took every cent I had.
[US]N. Spinrad Bug Jack Barron 7: I’m a big black mother, and I hate your fucking guts.
[Aus]Tharunka (Sydney) 8 Nov. 28/3: [A] baldy-headed mother in his underwear in the passenger seat, looking back all the time, beside another, younger fucker with a five o’clock shadow on his head.
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 71: I don’t know what the fuck you mothers’re talking about!
[US]L. Heinemann Close Quarters (1987) 28: ‘Wall, kiss ma ass!’ said Haskins. ‘Cross, ya mutha, what’s yo pleasure?’.
[Aus]Tracks (Aus.) Aug. 3: To all you surfie mothers (i.e., ‘mother-fuckers’). We are sick to death of hearing all this shit about us westies [Moore 1993].
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 283: Break this mother’s back.
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 32: One time is all it takes mudder.
[US]K. Bruen ‘Fade To . . . Brooklyn’ in Brooklyn Noir 310: Those mothers thrive on knowing where you’re at.
[Aus]J.J. DeCeglie Drawing Dead [ebook] Mother didn’t let me down either. Pulled up swift and on the button.
[SA]IOL Cape Western News (SA) 15 Feb. [Internet] Lock the mother up for perverting the course of justice.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 54: Lance ‘Lanky’ Campion is one ruthless mother.

(b) as a comparative.

[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 145: You and James are like houses — painted white outside, and blacker’n a mother inside.

(c) an unspecified object or situation.

[US](con. 1945) G. Forbes Goodbye to Some (1963) 111: Just couldn’t line up those three little peas in the little box and get those mothers all in their holes at the same time.
[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 134: Some wives is gonna read that mother you writin’, you dig what I’m sayin’?
[US]G. Tate ‘Atomic Dog’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 31: That chick who sings [...] When she opened up, it was Patti LaBelle all up and down. White chick, too. She burned that mother down.
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 97: When I thought about what she could do to my neck with those mothers, I could hardly stand it.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 27: She did know that shotguns weren’t warm and fuzzy firearms. They were hard to control, because they were heavy mothers.
[US]N. Green Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 220: Let’s get back to the shop and get this mother set up.
[US]S. King Finders Keepers (2016) 46: ‘This time, you mother,’ he told it [...] He pulled. The trunk slid forward.

(d) something exceptional.

[US]Current Sl. II:3 5: Mutha, n. A cadet who possesses much athletic prowess, social grace, or general ability (Air Force Academy).
[US]Ellis & Newman in Kochman Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out 369: The greaser is a ‘bad ass’; the gowster is a ‘muthah’.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 164: They did an old style ‘guaguanco’ that was a mother.

(e) (US black) an affectionate term used between men.

[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear 8: mother n. 1. term expressing affection (used by one man to another).

6. (also mutha, in (drugs) uses [? moota n. or abbr. motherfucker n. or the role of drug as a comforter, i.e. a mother].

(a) (US drugs) morphine.

[US]Washington Times (DC) 23 Oct. 2/1: Morphine is commonly known among [cocaine users] as ‘Mother’.

(b) marijuana.

[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970).
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972) 137: mutha [...] Marijuana.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 15: Mother [...] Mutha — Marijuana.

(c) a drug seller.

[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970).
[US]H.E Roberts Third Ear 8: mother n. […] 3. a salesman of illegal drugs.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

SE in slang uses as a nickname

In compounds

Mother Bunch (n.) [joc. use of the name of a noted late-16C ale-wife]


[UK]Nashe Pierce Pennilesse 25: So the Vintners in like case: others by slime, as frogs, which may be alluded to Mother Bunches slimie ale.
[UK]Dekker Shoemakers’ Holiday IV iv: Am I sure that Paules steeple is a handful higher than London Stone? or that the pissing conduit leakes nothing but pure mother Bunch?
Mother Damnable (n.) [usu. generic but in Caulfield, Blackguardiana (1793) is a picture of a bawd entitled ‘Mother Damnable of Kentish Town Anno 1676’ with an accompanying verse (dated 1676) which notes that ‘So fam’d, both far and near, is the reenown, / Of Mother Damnable, of Kentish Town’]

a procuress, a madam.

[UK]‘R.M.’ Scarronides 48: A Mother Damnable, a swinger.
[UK]Head Miss Display’d 51: Mother Damnable.
[UK] ‘Country-man’s Prophecy’ in W.P. Wit’s Academy Pt 2 126: Old Mother Damnable.
[UK]A great & famous scoldling-match 3: The most obstinate Mother Damnable that Rosemary-Lane ever yet Spawn’d.
[UK]London-Bawd (1705) 12: Old Mother Damnable the Bawd [...] heard all their Allegations.
[UK]N. Ward London Spy XV 351: Neither could the good Woman [...] avoid, being new Christen’d by some Drunken Godfather or other, the name of Mother Huff, Mother Damnable, the Witch of Endor, Dame Saucy, Goody Blowze, Gammer Tattle, or the like.
[UK]Richardson Clarissa V 23: It might be a doe – escaped from mother Damnable’s park.
[UK]Only True and Exact Calendar title page: Old Mother Damnable from the Strand.
Mother Fist (and her five daughters) (n.) (also Mother Five Fingers)

the hand, in the context of masturbation.

[US]G.L. Coon Short End 178: For every time we laid a real broad, we laid Mother Five Fingers five hundred times [HDAS].
T. Capote Music for Chameleons n.p.: [Internet] We jacked off and went right to sleep. Sometimes I wonder: Whatever would we do without Mother Fist and her Five Daughters? They’ve certainly been a friendly bunch to us through the years.
Mother Ga-ga (n.) [gaga n.1 ]

(gay) a fussy, gossipy, interfering older homosexual.

[US]G. Legman ‘Lang. of Homosexuality’ Appendix VII in Henry Sex Variants.
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 31: mother gaga (n.): Aging homosexual; usually a busybody who makes the rounds, and who meddles in everybody’s business and feels obliged to tell everyone else about it.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 138: mother gaga (dated, ’40s) snooping gossip.
Mother Knab-cony (n.) (also mother nab-cony, Mother Nabem, nab cony) [nab v.1 (1) + cony n., lit. ‘Mother Snatch-Sucker’]

a madam, a bawd.

[UK]Head Miss Display’d 129: The meretricious reputation of the Park, fell much to decay, by the decease of the famous Patroness thereof Nab C–.
N. Ward London Terrae filius I 30: Any Young fresh Country Lass, ... shall be welcome to Mother Knab-Cony’s House, . . . in Shoving-Alley, near Moor fields.
[UK]‘Moll Slobbercock’ in Funny Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 46: The cow-sow-mare stopt, with her chaff to accost me, / And offer’d her ken as a place for my rest. / Ah no! Mother Nabem, right onward I move, / No mot but my own.
Mother Midnight (n.)

1. a bawd, a madam.

W. Davenant Law Against Lovers Act IV: [of a bawd] Mother Midnight.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Mother Midnight, a Midwife (often a Bawd).
[UK]N. Ward Miseries of Whoring 158: Now Betty by the wise and prudent Care / Of Mother Midnight, straightways does prepare / Herself for Man’s reception out of hand [...] She’ll live by Rump and Buttock altogether .
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
Fortnight’s Ramble through London 80: Dolly Dandle, Kitty Cunning, Molly Mischance, Dame Dismal, and Mother Midnight.
[UK](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 240: ‘Mother, are you serious?’ said Jin Vin, [...] ‘In troth am I,’ said the dame; ‘and will you call me Mother Midnight now, Jin Vin?’.

2. a midwife; esp. one who delivers or aborts illegitimate children.

[UK] ‘Westminster Drollery’ in Ebsworth Choyce Drollery (1876) 190: Mother Midnight comes out / With the Babe in a Clout.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Mother Midnight, a Midwife (often a Bawd).
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
Rambler’s Mag. Feb. 54/1: Mother Midnight, an old midwife who lived near Maidenhead.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
Mother Parker (n.)

(US gay) a tough, older homosexual.

[US]Maledicta III:2 223: Catamite and minion would now generally be employed only in historical references [...] while sissy and Mother Parker (tough queen) are dated.

General uses

In derivatives


see separate entries.

In compounds


see separate entries.

motherfucking-A (adv.)

see separate entry.

motherlove (n.) (US gay)

1. a homosexual man having sex with a heterosexual woman.

[US]G. Legman ‘Lang. of Homosexuality’ Appendix VII in Henry Sex Variants.
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 31: mother-love (n.): (1) Sexual intercourse between a homosexual and any female, as powerfully taboo now as is incest or incestuous love for one’s mother.

2. sexual intercourse between two homosexual men of the same ‘type’, ie passive and passive or active and active.

[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 31: mother-love (n.): [...] (2) A secondary meaning seems to be ki-ki sexual relations between two homosexuals of the same characteristics and desires.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 121: lovemaking between two homosexuals, both of the same type, ie plug with plug and socket with socket. [...] mother love (’40s).
mother nature (n.)

1. (US) menstruation.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 159: Mother Nature calls Be menstruating.
[US]J. Randall ‘A Visit from Aunt Rose’ in Verbatim XXV:1 Winter 25: Generally the period takes on the identity of a friend or relative, usually female, who comes for a visit: my friend, my little friend, my aunt, my grandmother, Mother Nature.

2. (drugs) marijuana [mother nature’s own tobacco].

[UK]The Who ‘We’re Not Gonna take It’ [lyrics] Hey you, smoking mother nature, this is a bust.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 171: It be called [...] Mother Nature, ’cause it righteously Mother Nature’s own tobacco!
mother’s blessing (n.)

see separate entry.

mother’s cramp (n.)

a hernia.

[UK](con. 1900s) A. Harding in Samuel East End Und. 55: Seventy-five per cent of the working people of the age [...] had hernias. ‘Mothers’ cramp’ they called it. They was hard-ruptured because of over-lifting.
mother’s day (n.)

1. (US black) the day when welfare cheques arrive from the government.

[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]J. Horton ‘Time and cool people’ in Kochman Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out 24: When the checks come in for child support, it’s ‘mother’s day’.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 37: Mother’s Day The 1st and 15th of every month when the welfare checks are distributed.

2. (US milit.) payday.

[US]Current Sl. V:1 17: Mother’s day, n. Payday (from: You pay this mother, you pay that mother . . .).
mother’s friend (n.)

a quinine pessary, an elementary form of contraceptive, whose inefficiency gave it a parallel name, the midwife’s friend.

[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 200: One brand of quinine pessary was called the Mother’s Friend, but to the user it was known as the Midwife’s Friend, from its unreliability.
mother’s life (n.)

imprisonment for life.

[UK] in G. Tremlett Little Legs 195: mother’s life imprisonment for life.
mother’s milk (n.)

1. gin.

[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry III iii: What, my lily! here, take a drop of mother’s milk.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 22: Mother’s milk – rum, boose, good liquor.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[UK]T. Burke Nights in Town 393: At the American end of the bar [...] drinking Horse’s Necks, Maiden’s Prayers, Mother’s Milks, Manhattans, and Scotch Highballs.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight.

2. brandy.

[UK]W.L. Rede Sixteen String Jack II iv: Allow me to offer you a drop of mother’s milk.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 134: Mike steady the Major’s nob, vhile I give him a sup of mother’s milk.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: Brandy do a man harm! It’s mother’s milk — take another sip.
[UK]Illus. Police News 26 Nov. 4/2: ‘You’re a mother’s boy — have a drop of mother’s milk.’ [...] The lad, not having his the slightest idea what were the contents, took a sip [...] The raw, ardent spirit burnt his mouth.
mother’s ruin (n.) [the drink’s supposed effects; however note use of savin, from juniper and an ingredient of gin, as an abortifacient]


[[UK]Shields Dly Gaz. 26 Oct. 4/3: The evil of wives and mothers ruining themselves and their families by drink is only too well known [...] to need any further comment].
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 15 May 3/7: Then it struck him to go on the ‘Mother's Ruin.’ He and his cobber got well illuminated.
[UK]Portsmouth Eve. News 9 Dec. 6/3: Jack Pleasant, known as ‘The Bashful Limit,’ [...] brings four new songs — ‘A Drop of Mother’s Ruin’ [etc].
[UK]Breton & Bevir Adventures of Mrs. May 70: And as for you, you old jellybag, don’t you come cadgin’ for no more of Mother’s ruin of me.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight.
[UK]L. Payne private coll. n.p.: Gin Mother’s Ruin.
[NZ]G. Slatter Gun in My Hand 145: In this country a bulged pocket would not mean a gun. More likely a flask of skee or mother’s ruin.
[UK]G.W. Target Teachers (1962) 144: Never could tell with old ladies, dab hands with a little drop of old Mother’s Ruin.
[UK]J. Jones Rhy. Cockney Sl.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 200: Traditionally gin (mother’s ruin) is the best abortifacient drug.
[US](con. 1940s) P. Cumper One Bright Child 145: You’ll find a bottle of Mother’s Ruin that will do me very nicely.
mother superior (n.)

see separate entries.

In phrases

be mother (v.) (also be mum)

to serve portions, usu. of food and drink and esp. to pour out cups of tea; thus the invitation will you be mother?, will you serve/pour?

[NZ]G. Slatter Gun in My Hand 218: I’ll be mother. How do you like it? Strong? Milk and sugar?
[UK]R. Rendell Best Man To Die (1981) 139: Will you be mother, Mrs. Fanshawe, do the honours?
[UK]N. Smith Gumshoe (1998) 124: I held up the teapot. ‘Shall I be mother, brother?’.
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 143: [of a drug share-out] Shall I be mother? he says takin’ out the charlie.
does your mother know you’re out?

a sarcastic comment to a person whom the speaker feels should be elsewhere, due to immaturity, foolishness, inexperience etc.

[UK]Crim.-Con. Gaz. 12 Jan. 14/3: We ask this gentleman, ‘Does his mother know he is out?’.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker III 35: Comin’ and tappin’ me on the shoulder with her fan [...] said she, – Pray, my good feller, ‘Does your mother know you’re out?’.
[UK]C. Mackay Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions (1869) 244: The next phrase that enjoyed the favour of the million [...] seems to have been originally aimed against precocious youths who gave themselves the airs of manhood before their time. ‘Does your mother know you’re out?’, was the provoking query addressed to young men of more than reasonable swagger, who smoked cigars in the streets, and wore false whiskers to look irresistible. We have seen many a conceited fellow who could not suffer a woman to pass him without staring her out of countenance, reduced at once into his natural insignificance by the mere utterance of this phrase.
[UK]New Sprees of London 3: [S]o flare up and speal your tin—shell out like a brick—spend the ochre—crall the Crowns. Your mother will know you’re out!
Moreton Bay Courier Brisbane, Qld.) 15 May 3/1: Constable on being asked ‘if his mother knew he was out,’ immediately put his thumb to his nose, and told his interrogator to go to a place which shall be nameless.
‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries & Miseries of NY 10: ‘Then your mother knows you’re out? cried the first speaker.
[UK]C. Kingsley Alton Locke (1850) 25: ‘Does his mother know he’s out?’ asked another, ‘and won’t she know it —’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 16 Oct. 3/2: [heading] Does Your Mother Know You’re Out?
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Verdant Green (1982) 85: I dare say you don’t remember wanting to have a polka with him [...] Or asking him if his mother knew he was out.
[UK]Vanity Fair (N.Y.) IV 245/1: buckstone’s favorite gag under similar circumstances was ‘My eye!’ while charles matthews always queries in a sub-sepulchral tone — ‘Does your mother know you’re out?’.
Sth Aus. Register (Aelaide, SA) 27 Mar. 12/4: [S]ome one in the crowd called out, ‘Does your mother know you are out?’ [...] To which His Lordship replied, ‘Yes, she does; and your mother will know I am in at 4 o'clock’.
[UK]J. Greenwood Wilds of London (1881) 103: The stuffed policeman [...] several times said, ‘O, crickey!’ and inquired of the convict if his mother knew he was out.
[UK]P. Pelham ‘I Put It On’ [lyrics] The little boys aloud did shout, / Does your mother know you’re out?
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 21 Sept. 2/4: ‘Dearest, loveliest Varley, does yer mother know yer out?’.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 20 Sept. 5/1: The man at the pay box smiled at her as he said: ‘Say, miss, does your mother know yer out?’.
[UK]J. Caminada Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life I 369: Some of those present amused themselves by jeering at me [...] [asking me] ‘Does your mother know you’re out?’.
[UK]Harington & LeBrunn [perf. Marie Lloyd] Salute My Bicycle! [lyrics] As I fly the boys all shout, / ‘Does your mother know you’re out?’.
[UK]Eve. Post 26 Nov. 6/4: He [...] thumps a lady twice his size in the back [...] jerks out ‘Wotcher!’ and winks the under-lid of his eye as only an errand boy can. ‘Does yer maw know you’re aht?’ says the girl. ‘Not ’arf’ retorts the gay Lothario; and they hook on forthwith.
[Aus]E. Dyson In Roaring Fifties 66: Jim was asked by several strangers [...] ‘Does your mother know you’re out?’.
H. Champion ‘Here Comes Old Beaver’ [monologue] All the little kids began to shout: ‘Ay! Ay! Ay! Does your mother know you’re out?’.
[US]C. Ryan ‘From “Quoz” to “Razzberries”’ in AS II:2 91: ‘Who are you?’ supplanted the longer expression, ‘Does your mother know you’re out?’.
[Ire]S. McAughtry Belfast 110: A couple of fellows [...] would call something like ‘Does your Ma know yer out?’.
[UK]T. Pratchett Moving Pictures (1991) 277: Poons sniggered. ‘Hubba-hubba! Does your mother know you’re out?’ he cackled.
[Ire]B. Quinn Smokey Hollow 89: ‘Hey, oul’ Jimmy, does your mother know you’re out!’ ‘Go on, give her a goozer.’.
has your mother sold her mangle (and bought a piano)? (also does your mother keep a mangle?) [note 1990s TV comedy character ‘Arthur Atkins’ (the comedian Paul Whitehouse), the cod 1930s music-hall comic with his catchphrase ‘Where’s me washboard’]

an all-purpose teasing phr., aimed at a passer-by.

[UK]C. Mackay Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions (1869) 242: Another very odd phrase came into repute in a brief space afterwards, in the form of the impertinent and not universally apposite query, ‘Has your mother sold her mangle?’ But its popularity was not of that boisterous and cordial kind which ensures a long continuance of favour. What tended to impede its progress was, that it could not be well applied to the older portions of society. It consequently ran but a brief career, and then sank into oblivion.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ ‘Æger’ in College Tales (1893) 214: [He would feel] feel obliged by the information whether his maternal relative had yet disposed of her mangle.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 316/1: mangle, [...] Lorsqu’un homme se vante faussement d’appartenir à une famille aristocratique, on lui dit proverbialement: Has your mother sold her mangle and bought a piano? Votre mère a-t-elle vendu ses fers à repasser pour acheter un piano?
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 110/2: ‘Your mother don’t keep a mangle, does she?’ ‘Look here, my young shaver, if you don’t drop your chaff, I certainly will kick you out.’.
have one mother too many (v.) [a bastard should not have any mother at all, i.e. should have been left unconceived]

to be illegitimate.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 831: C.20.
mother-in-law (n.)

see separate entry.

mother of all saints (n.) [a blasphemous joke]

the vagina, esp. as used as a toast.

[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 400: He drinks the mother of all saints: / But tho’ the toast’s the very same, / In Greek it bears another name.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: The Monosyllable ++++. a Woman’s Commodity. Mother of All Saints, the same.
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 83: This mother of all things had likewise been very busy with the mother of all saints, and night-working Fancy dictated [...] the grand use of that then hot-bed of Nature.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Banquet of Wit 102: Sentiments and Toasts [...] The mother of all saints.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Crim.-Con. Gaz. 20 Oct. 66/2: The oldest gentleman gave ‘Here’s to the mother of all saints;’ which was drank by the gentlemen, with a smile and by the ladies with [...] their usual expression, t‘hat they did not see anything’ to laugh at.
[UK]‘A Song of Sentiments’ in Fake Away Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 280: Lads pour out libations from bottles and bowls, / The mother of all saints is drank by all souls.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
mother of the maids (n.) [cit. c.1673 puns on sl. and SE Mother of the Maids, governess to the Queen’s maids of honour]

a madam, a brothel-keeper.

[UK]R. Brome Northern Lasse I iv: She might ha’ been Mother o’ the Maids, as well, to my seeming; or a Matron.
[UK]Rochester ‘A Ramble in St James’s Park’ in Works (1999) 76: The First was of your Whitehall Blades, / Near Kin to th’ Mother of the Maids.
[UK]N. Ward London Spy II 32: Upon which the old Mother of the Maids, call’d hastily to Priss, and Whispering, ask’d her if there were any Rods in the House?
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus II:2 26: Let any Mother of the Maids, / That deals at Court in Maidenheads, / But teach her Pupils this rare Art.
[UK]C. Walker Authentick Memoirs of Sally Salisbury 121: The charitable Mother of the Maids, and some of her Nymphs.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Mother of the Maids, a Bawd.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 91: Madame Entretenu, a personage whom we would denominate in England the ‘Mother of the maids’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 28 Feb. 3/2: Kitty Wright, the mother of the maids, and Miss Agnes Mackenzie, one of her pet chickens.
mother’s little helper (n.) [Rolling Stones’ song ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ (1966)]

(drugs) the tranquillizer Miltown.

[UK]Jagger & Richards ‘Mother's Little Helper’ [lyrics] She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper / And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day.
[US]Wesson & Smith Barbiturates.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 298: Warren kept a couple of ‘mother’s little helpers’ in the bathroom. Serepax and Normison.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 15: Mother’s little helper — Depressants.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 146: Morphine in various patent medicines and over-the-counter mixtures [...] became the mother’s little helper of their era.
mother-young-girl (n.)

(W.I.) an ageing woman who tries to be younger than her years.

[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 35: Madda-youug-gal an obviously aging woman who clings passionately to things of youth.
your mother (n.) [the ‘feminization’ underpinning much camp gay sl.]

(camp gay) oneself; thus your mother needs a drink etc.

[US]J. Rechy City of Night 102: This is not your young inexperienced sistuh you are talkin to, this is your mothuh, who has been a-round.
[US]A. James America’s Homosexual Underground 131: Mercy, child, your mother hasn’t had a trick since Gloria Swanson gave up salt — and that was in 1923.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 218: your mother (pron) first person singular.
[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 147: From them she might pick up and more to startle than identify with her sisters use words and expressions such as [...] your mother (the self, as in ‘Your mother needs a drink,’ picked up from camp conversation).

In exclamations

motherfuck!/motherfucker!/motherfucking A!

see separate entries.

mother of shit!

(US) an excl. of surprise or exasperation.

[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 123: Mother of shit, the lieutenant said, his voice as cool and removed as ever, how I envy you mediocre people!

see separate entry.

on my mother’s dick!

(US) an oath, ‘on my honour!’.

[US]S. Kernochan Dry Hustle 182: I promise! I swear! On my mother’s dick.