Washington Post (Sept. 9) reports that:

The tennis star meanwhile spent her post-loss time in mom mode, at least on social media, while Billie Jean King and the National Organization for Women called out tennis for having a double standard toward women, under the headline, “Serena Williams fined $17,000 for U.S. Open outburst; Billie Jean King calls out ‘double standard’

I know she has a baby, but I’m not clear with the implication of being in “mom mode.” I checked the meaning on a couple of print and online dictionaries and found only a single playback in urban dictionary, which defines it as “become protective or nurturing others.

Does this definition fit the scene? Does it mean she turned domestic? Doesn't it have a sexist tone? Is “mom mode” a very common English expression?

What does “mom mode” exactly mean in the situation of the player of the U.S. Open Women’s Final?

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    Not a set phrase, at least in my experience. Seeing as you can look at what the writer is referring to - Serena Williams' post-match Twitter/Insta feeds, presumably - that would give you a better idea of exactly what the writer meant (probably posting baby pics or suchlike). – tmgr Sep 11 '18 at 9:57
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    As tmgr says, not a set phrase. You should understand it as 'in the mode of acting like a mom' which is broad and vague and could be used for many things having to do with motherhood. SO there's no exact meaning. It could be caretaking, or protective, or motherly pride (of others), or acting like mom's might on social media (whatever that might be). It's not meant disparagingly so probably not sexist (not intentionally). In this particular context, 'mom mode' would be appropriate for posting baby pictures, given the mention of social media. In contrast to BJK and NOW being aggressive online. – Mitch Sep 11 '18 at 12:11
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    Mom mode isn’t a set phrase as such, as others have said. But being ‘in X mode’ is a fairly set phrase, referring to acting in a way associated with X (to the exclusion of other things/activities) at the time in question. So if you say you’re ‘in exam mode’, for example, it means that you have an exam coming up and you’re currently spending all your time reading and revising for that exam. The article here is saying that for a while after her loss, Williams took a step away from tennis and instead spent her time concentrating on her daughter. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 11 '18 at 12:48

She was posting a pic of her kid instead of ranting about her loss.

It does not sound sexist to me and is understandable English.


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It refers to her activity, after the loss, on Instagram about her daughter, suggesting she was in mom mode (caring about her little one)

Williams’ only message Saturday night was a brief Instagram video of her 1-year-old daughter Olympia, wearing a miniature version of her mom’s tutu and little sneakers, toddling with her beloved doll, Qai Qai.

Washington Post

Mommy mode is a more used expression on the net. The expression refers to the multitasking ability that moms appear to have in taking care of different things at the same time.

I now know the true meaning of “mommy mode.” As mothers, we tend to use the term loosely. What does it mean to me? Mommy mode is when you have to multitask to get 10 things done at once; when you don’t care how you look doing it, as long as it gets done; when energy from deep down in your body kicks in to help you get it all done.

The expression, according to Google Books appears to be from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.

From Until Death Do Us Part Christine McGuire , 1996:

Kathryn quickly scooped up her files, her mind already going into Mom Mode, as Dave called it. Between now and the time she picked Emma up from school and dropped her at her violin class, she would consciously shed the formal identity of ...

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