I am looking for a word that refers to the country in which one's parents were born. Something similar to mother-tongue except for location instead of language?

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    Similar to mother-tongue? But that's the language you were brought up with as a child. Which is not necessarily the mother-tongue of your mother. Each of your parents has a mother-tongue and birthland (either or both of which they may have in common). You also have your mother-tongue and birthland, which may be the same or different to either or both of your parents. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 2:44
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    Good question. Inappropriate example. Please remove the example and if possible use another.
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 6:38
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    I would say: "My parents' homeland"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 7:35
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    Besides "fatherland", which might have unwanted Nazi overtones, I would suggest "ancestral homeland".
    – nohat
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 9:37
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    Since your motherland or fatherland is where you were born, presumably your parent’s would be your grandmotherland or grandfatherland. Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 9:11

3 Answers 3


Perhaps motherland

one's native land or, sometimes, the land of one's ancestors; a country thought of as originator or source

Similarly fatherland

a person's native land or country; the land or country of one's ancestors

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    I think either this isn't the right answer, or OP doesn't quite understand what he's asking. One's mother/father/birthland might be "the country in which one's parents were born". But then again it might not. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 2:47
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    @FumbleFingers I agree that both terms are somewhat vague. I can't think of a term that is explicitly limited to the land of your parents birth, other than parents' place of birth. Both motherland and fatherland convey an attitude as much as a location.
    – bib
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 2:51
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    -1 'Ancestors' does not necessarily include immediate parents and often does not.
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 6:36
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    "Fatherland" might have unwanted connotations of Nazi Germany. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatherland
    – nohat
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 9:37
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    As a native English speaker, if someone says motherland or fatherland, I would only assume they mean their own native country, the country in which they were born in.
    – KumaAra
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 2:05

It's worth looking at some figures from Google Books here...

1 - predominantly OUR
our/my motherland 79,600 / 22,200
our/my fatherland 105,000 / 53,800
our/my homeland 160,000 / 88,500

2 - predominantly MY
our/my birthland 105 / 431
our/my native land 130,000 / 234,000
land of our/my birth 130,000 / 256,000

The above results suggest to me that mother/father/homeland are primarily associated with identifying shared biological and cultural origins. When an individual simply wants to identify his personal background, he's likely to avoid terms which are primarily nationalistic/militaristic...

defend the/our/my motherland 8,470 / 8,060 / 186
fight for the/our/my fatherland 48,500 / 1,320 / 237
the/our/my homeland security 1,780,000 / 122,000 / 600

Quite apart from those connotations (which are presumably unwanted in OP's context), there's a literal/figurative clash in forms such as my father's motherland, my parent's fatherland, etc. Plus there's obviously no reason to mention your parents' origins at all unless they're different to yours. But if you have to, the general preference is quite clear...

my parents' motherland 5
my parents' fatherland 4
my parents' homeland 1,150 <--- (as per Mari-Lou's earlier comment)
my parents' birthland 2
my parents' native land 158
land of my parents' birth 78

  • @Mari-Lou: Sorry! Attribution noted! Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 1:15
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    Technically, of course, my parents’ birthland(s) and land(s) of my parents’ birth(s) are the only two options that fit exactly. One's homeland, motherland, fatherland, or native land is not necessarily the same country one was born in. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 1:24
  • @Janus: I'd certainly use birthland if it was important to be precise about "natal location", but given OP likens his target word to mother tongue I lean towards homeland as more evocative of "the land you grew up in" (as per "the language you grew up using most naturally and fluently"). Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 1:37

"Ancestral home" or "ancestral homeland" is appropriate. That phrase will work regardless of where the speaker was born.

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    As @Kris previously stated: 'Ancestors' does not necessarily include immediate parents and often does not. If you told me your ancestral homeland was Ireland, I would assume it had been at least 3 or 4 generations since someone immigrated from Ireland.
    – KumaAra
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 2:08
  • Parents are certainly ancestors. In genealogy terms, parents are direct ancestors. "Immediate parents" is a phrase I have never heard.
    – Theresa
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 2:10
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    Yes, of course they are. But if your goal is to express the idea of where your parents specifically were born, then ancestral home will not give that impression. One's parent's home is not necessarily one's ancestral home. You could be from a long line of Irishmen, then your grandparents moved to England and gave birth to your mother. So your ancestral home is Ireland, but your mother's country of birth is England. --- Note that the OP asked specifically for a word to describe the country where your parents were born.
    – KumaAra
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 2:14
  • In this day and age, it is more common (especially in America) for one's ancestral home and one's parent's country of birth to be different. As humans have moved so many times over the centuries. Hence the need for the term ancestral home in the first place. To track where one's family originally came from (but no longer lives in).
    – KumaAra
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 2:17
  • To clarify @KumaAra's point, while it is true that, as a conceptual matter, one's ancestors include one's parents, ancestral home and similar phrases, normally stands for the place where most of one's known (even if only vaguely known) ancestors lived (so that the history of one's family has been significantly shaped by the culture of that place).
    – jsw29
    Commented May 14, 2023 at 21:53

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