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1610s, "quality or condition of being a mother," from French maternité "motherhood" (15c.), from Medieval Latin maternitatem (nominative maternitas) "motherhood," from Latin maternus (see maternal). Used from 1893 as a quasi-adjective in reference to garments designed for pregnant women.
maternity ma·ter·ni·ty (mə-tûr'nĭ-tē)
The state of being a mother; motherhood.
The feelings or characteristics associated with being a mother; motherliness.
A maternity ward.