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1. Having no living mother.
2. Having no known mother.

moth′er·less·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


the state of not having a mother
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
Jill Bergman illuminates the trope of motherlessness in African-American literature using Pauline Hopkins's novels as an exemplary case.
The springboard for both the main plot and subplot of King Lear, in fact, is adulterous motherlessness, both suspected and admitted.
She explained that the 'system' thinks that behind every child there is a 'competent career' whereas, in fact, many children and young people suffer from 'motherlessness'.
As becomes evident, Martine's homelessness is broadly constructed within the paradigm of her "motherlessness," her refusal to submit to state-sanctioned views or definitions of mothering and motherhood.
The breakdown of marriage produces widespread fatherlessness, not motherlessness. As Margaret Mead pointed out long ago--yes, leftist Margaret Mead was correct about this--motherhood is a biological certainty whereas fatherhood is socially constructed.
Some specific themes explored are motherlessness and emotional exile in Jamaica Kincaid's The Autobiography of My Mother, Jessie Fauset's Comedy: American Style, and re-membering blackness in the neo-slave writings of Octavia Butler and Zora Neale Hurston.
In 1956 she wrote, "As time goes by, I feel that I live nowhere and that no place 'wants' me." Belonging--coupled with the piercing anguish of nonbelonging--became a characteristic theme of her life and work, along with grief about motherlessness and the fervent embrace of motherhood.
Diana Postlethwaite also identifies Anne's motherlessness as the central problem, and asserts that "Anne Elliot can affirm that she 'is her mother's self' without 'becoming what her mother had been'" ("Sometimes" 45).
Motherlessness, a central trope for white nineteenth-century American readers, "may have resonated still more powerfully for African Americans, who had extensive experience with motherlessness" (287).
He talked of his experience of motherlessness. He said that this felt nearly unbearable for him to feel but also newly possible.
Motherlessness may play a role in Peterkin's creation of the birth/rebirth cycle.
Though she did go on to study music at the Peabody Conservatory, Weissman also struggled with a series of problems she now believes were tired to motherlessness: eating disorders, substance abuse, divorce and a compulsion to make repeated moves rather than put down roots.