My brief researches only bring up the word "auntlike" to render the feminine equivalent of avuncular. Surely, though, and given the etymology of "aunt" [ < Latin amita -father's sister, old feminine past participle of amāre to love, i.e., beloved ], there must be a more lyrical word to hand.

  • What properties of 'avuncular' do you want in the feminine version? And do those properties form a concept that are associated with lots of aunt-like people?
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 13:44
  • The properties are commensurate with the sex: warm, loving and protective -plus good with presents at Christmas and birthdays! [Sorry to sound irreverent, but I'm not an accredited sociologist.]
    – fortunate1
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 14:00
  • 2
    I suppose you will ask for a feminine equivalent for "nepotism" next...
    – GEdgar
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 14:02
  • Touché, GE, (or should I say 'toccata'?)
    – fortunate1
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 14:28
  • 1
    The Columbia Guide to Standard American English says in its entry for avuncular: A curiosity: English has no similar adjective to deal with matters or qualities typical of an aunt: auntish and auntlike are about as close as we can come. Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 14:42

3 Answers 3


Deriving from your own explanation in the OP, the natural choice would be amicular.

I do not seem to find any dictionary entries. Need to see why.

Book Doctor Gwen : 92 Feminine and Masculine Word Pairs
Feminine term / Masculine term /// neutral or inclusive term
4. amicular* / avuncular
(*Terms that are slang or recently coined.)

Contemporary Pragmatism - Google Books Result
John R. Shook, Paulo Ghiraldelli - 2004 - Philosophy - 200 pages
... be offered as amicular advice to discourse generation researchers, along the lines of the earlier 'Don't ask for the meaning; ask for the use', ...

  • Your answer is a thing of beauty, Kris -thank you! I can't imagine it catching on quickly, but I'll use it regularly now. (And hey, remember when they said bringing "misandry" into the working language was an uphill battle!) EDIT: interesting to see Gwen has it as "... recently coined" -she's quick!
    – fortunate1
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 13:35
  • 6
    The right answer is materteral, from Latin materteral, for one’s mother’s aunt. It’s only been around for going on 200 years though. Avuncular is also one’s mother’s brother in origin. There didn’t appear to be father’s-side terms, although we don’t usually make that distinction in English. If we did, then something from patruus for one’s father’s brother and from amita for one’s father’s sister might make sense. Then again, only matrilineal relations are certain. That’s why one’s sisterson had a special honor in ancient societies: he was more surely related to you than your own.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 16:27
  • @tchrist: You mean one's aunt on the mother's side, (maternal aunt) not "one’s mother’s aunt." I believe.
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 8:01
  • 1
    This doesn't look right. The -cular at the end of "avuncular" is not a suffix. The word is composed of the root avuncul- + the suffix -ar (a variant of -al generally used when there is an L nearby). "Amicular" therefore looks like it is derived from amicula (which apparently meant "mistress" in Latin!) or amiculus. Since the actual word you're using is amita, I would think you should form the adjective as amit- + al, "amital."
    – herisson
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 4:18
  • 2
    There is no word with the same usage. avuncular is used to mean kindly like an uncle. There is no distaff side with equivalent usage. Who says: She so materteral? No one. The existence of a word is not usage of it.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 17:05

The correct answer, courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary, is the word materteral, whose entry I give here in toto:

Pronunciation: Brit. /məˈtəːtərl̩/ , U.S. /məˈtərdər(ə)l/

Etymology: < classical Latin mātertera maternal aunt ( < māter mother n.1 + ‑tera , feminine of ‑ter, suffix forming nouns) + ‑al suffix1.

humorous. rare.

Characteristic or typical of an aunt. Cf. avuncular adj.

  • 1823      W. Taylor in Monthly Rev. 102 447      With maternal and materteral anxiety.
  • 1867      J. N. Taylor Spindrift 6      You can picture the stately materteral form—A full-blown Atè, big with doom!

The proper citation for that entry is:

materteral, adj.

Third edition, March 2001; online version December 2011. < http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/114954 >; accessed 18 February 2012. An entry for this word was first included in New English Dictionary, 1905.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answers (here & in the post above), tchrist. I love the labyrinths of etymology, but I confess the coloration of this particular word's has me bemused. One source calls amicular "slang or recently coined" -here disproved. Your materteral [like a snoring terrapin, maybe?] is "humorous. rare". I only wanted to say that I marvel at the contradictory messages sent in parallel: that matrilineage is an incontrovertible truth, and that the English words needed to illuminate that fact are either non-existent or fatuous.
    – fortunate1
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 0:00
  • 1
    @fortunate1 Well... avuncular and materteral (“What’s that y’all’re sayin’ ’bout mah turtle there, eh?”) are both from your mother’s brother and sister, not your father’s, so I’d say in origin they’re matrilineal. It’s really too bad English seems to have finally lost eam, eme, an eme > a neme for your mother’s brother; that is, for your maternal uncle. One doesn’t need Latin that way.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 0:51

While their lyrical nature is subjective, dictionaries list both aunt-like as well as auntly as suitable adjectives.

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