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[muhth -er-in-law] /ˈmʌð ər ɪnˌlɔ/
noun, plural mothers-in-law.
the mother of one's husband or wife.
Origin of mother-in-law
1350-1400; Middle English modyr in lawe Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mother-in-law
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Never allow a so-called 'mother-in-law joke' to make you forget that you are reading a reflection on some one's mother.

  • But the presence of her husband and mother-in-law worried her.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • The girl must be kept at her mother-in-law's hut for the night, and remain perfectly silent.

    Basutoland Minnie Martin
  • Mrs. Honeychurch, amusing and portly, promised well as a mother-in-law.

    A Room With A View E. M. Forster
  • They are ringing, responded the soldier, because of the arrival of your mother-in-law, whom I have ordered to be summoned.

    Devil Stories Various
British Dictionary definitions for mother-in-law


noun (pl) mothers-in-law
the mother of one's wife or husband
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mother-in-law

mid-15c., "mother of one's spouse," from mother (n.1) + in-law. Also in early use, "stepmother." In British slang c.1884, mother-in-law was "a mixture of ales old and bitter."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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