One May At A Time: An Efflorescence of Vocabulary: Motherlode – A Mother's Day Lexicon: May 8

Mothers do so many things, which is why a good nap may be the best gift you can give your own mom on Mother's Day. Still, you might want to offer Mom a few words of appreciation, so here's a list of 13 verbs that get to the heart of what mothers do.

Read more here: A Motherlode of Vocabulary for Mother's Day
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. nourish
    provide with sustenance
    Rachel worried that her daughter did not gain, and fussed over the fire concocting nourishing stews which Mercy obediently tried to swallow.The Witch of Blackbird Pond
    Whether through breastfeeding, bottles, or ordering a pizza, mothers nourish their children. The first meanings of this word applied to breastfeeding, but the word has broadened quite a bit. You can call any food nourishment, and you can even call some non-edible things nourishing. For example, a great book is nourishment for your mind. But as your mother would say, "Never, ever eat books."
  2. nurture
    bring up
    “We’re there to nurture them, and we should not be asked to spurn a child’s affection.”Washington Post (May 7, 2017)
  3. protect
    shield from danger, injury, destruction, or damage
    When she had asked me what I was going to say, I told her, “I’m going to protect my own . . . you know how it is.The Freedom Writers Diary
    Motherhood isn't just about feeding and clothing: moms protect their young, as you can find out for yourself by messing with a baby bear in the wild. Moms protect their kids from suspicious strangers, inappropriate TV shows, and bad decisions, like a toddler who thinks he can jump off the top of the couch and stick the landing. Moms are, in their own way, the most caring bodyguards in the world.
  4. beget
    have children
    Along with this, self-preservation and development and reproduction, the begetting of offspring of like nature, are characteristic.Various
    This word, best known for its use in the Bible, is something all biological mothers can put on their resume: they begat, to use the past tense. To beget is to have children: begetting is reproducing. This old Germanic word doesn't pop up too often these days, though it is useful in jokes.
  5. foster
    providing nurture though not related by blood or legal ties
    Additionally, Matheus said, the agency realized it needed to offer additional support for foster parents.Washington Times (Apr 3, 2017)
  6. vex
    disturb, especially by minor irritations
    His mother would be vexed to see him gulp his malted milk or bolt his sandwich.Kilmer, Joyce
    As great as your mom is—and hey, I never said she wasn't, so relax—I bet she sometimes vexes you. This is a short, punchy, useful word for irritations. Mothers constantly worry about their children, so they tend to nag them—nagging is one of the top ten vexations in the universe. Vex has been a word since at least the 1400s, and it can be used in two ways. If someone is annoying you, you can say "Stop vexing me!" or "I am vexed!" Vexing is a two-way street, but both are a pain in the tuchus.
  7. soothe
    cause to feel better
    I let her hold and soothe me like a little child, until I fell asleep.Purple Hibiscus
    Mothers often soothe their children, especially little ones who start crying because they're hungry, they have to go to the bathroom, they're tired, or it's Wednesday. I have a friend with three small children, and she spends most of the day soothing. The origins of this word are surprising: soothing had to do with proving something true rather than making someone feel better. Soothe was related to soothsayer, someone who speaks the truth and is therefore hard to find these days.
  8. console
    give moral or emotional strength to
    I don’t need to be patted or consoled, like a child.Allegiant
    Consoling is similar to soothing. When you console someone, you make them feel better with kind words such as "You'll do better on the next math test" or "Here, have a cookie." Mothers have a lot of consoling to do, since children are constantly getting their knees scraped by the pavement and their dreams crushed by the world. Even as kids turn into adults, they still usually turn to their moms for consolation.
  9. worry
    be concerned with
    His mother would be worried sick once she realized he was out in this weather.Hoot
  10. encourage
    inspire with confidence
    She also encouraged her daughter’s natural musical talent by enrolling her in piano lessons.Hidden Figures
  11. cajole
    influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
    I resent being forced to spend my limited time with my son cajoling him to do mindless worksheets.New York Times (Apr 25, 2017)
  12. raise
    bring up
    Whether a woman parents her child as her mother raised her, or adopts a different style, becoming a mother provides an opportunity for a do-over.New York Times (May 8, 2017)
  13. guide
    be a motivating force or drive
    Roy figured she used up her guiding skills every day at school and was too worn out to deal with Garrett when she got home.Hoot
Created on May 11, 2017 (updated May 4, 2020)

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