Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When I googled stepmother treatment, I found that it was mainly used in India to refer to neglect, disregard or inattention. Most of the other non-Indian links talked about the literal treatment by the relative.

Does this phrase/idiom belong only to Indian English? In India, stepmothers carry this stereotype of being vile women, by the way.

share|improve this question
1  
I think this is Not Constructive. Obviously Anglophones are not unique in being aware that stepmothers might not always be as solicitous of their adopted as their natural children. Since the word "stepmother" exists, it stands to reason some people will use it negatively. –  FumbleFingers Feb 22 '13 at 17:46
1  
How is this not constructive? Shyam is asking whether this idiom is limited to Indian English. Certainly I have not encountered in British English. –  Colin Fine Feb 22 '13 at 18:09
1  
@Colin Fine: It's NC because I find no evidence to suggest that stepmother treatment is any more or less common in any particular Anglophone nation, and I can't see that a handful of people here on ELU saying "I'm from X and I do/don't hear it often" would be particularly informative. We can all guess what it means - it's pointless even speculating whether Indians are actually more likely to use it. –  FumbleFingers Feb 22 '13 at 19:29
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Here in the US it is "foster parent treatment" that is more prevalent. It is very common for foster parents to treat their bilogical children differently than their "income" children. With such a high divorce rate here in the US, practically everyone is a stepmother nowadays.

share|improve this answer
add comment

If you mean that in India it is a common, well-understood idiom meaning neglectful treatment, then no, in America it does not have any such well-established meaning. However, stepmothers get a pretty bad rap here in America too, so if you used it in a sentence, "I really got the stepmother treatment from my boss" or some such, I think people would get the idea. The phrase "wicked stepmother" is so commonly used in fairy tales that it is something of an idiom.

share|improve this answer
    
Funny you mentioned fairy tales – I thought of Cinderella as soon as I read the question. "Cinderella treatment" is sometimes used to express neglect, but often with a redemptive happy ending, as in this example. –  J.R. Feb 22 '13 at 23:23
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.