Is it politically correct to use either word (fatherland, motherland) to refer to the country of birth? Which one is more appropriate and when?


4 Answers 4


Let's look at a subtle difference between these two nouns:

Fatherland (n): an individual's native country. But it is used more to show patriotism.


Motherland (n): individual’s native country.

The YourDictionary gives an example for fatherland that reflects patriotism -

He called upon them to defend the socialist fatherland.

  • Any reason why it got a down vote? Those who did it should mention it. There is also a reference from Oxford.
    – Maulik V
    Dec 7, 2013 at 3:27
  • 1
    I didn't downvote, but it's helpful to link to the dictionaries you take the examples from :)
    – WendiKidd
    Dec 8, 2013 at 18:42
  • @WendiKidd. I asked the one who downvoted it! Anyway, links given.
    – Maulik V
    Dec 9, 2013 at 4:51

Both of these terms are a little loaded. In particular in my mind "fatherland" conjures up Nazi Germany, so I would never use it (but maybe that's just me). I guess I could use "motherland" if I was feeling particularly sentimental, but "homeland" conveys the same with less baggage.

  • +1 for calling the terms loaded and for the "homeland" alternative. I would suggest that at least in America, these terms are used for parody or mockery more so than for sincere intents. We associate the terms too strongly with cold-war era Soviets (our enemies) and WW2-era Nazis (also our enemies) which makes them hard to use now. "Homeland" is much better and has no particular baggage that I can perceive.
    – JamieB
    Oct 13, 2016 at 15:22

They both been "native country." But with some slight differences.

"Fatherland" is more of a reference to NATION, that is the concept.

"Motherland" is more of a reference to the physical "land," that makes up a country. Think, "Mother Earth."


The main semantic difference in English is that while all terms refer to one's native land or country of origin, motherland and fatherland also have the connotation of the land of one's ancestors.

Therefore, motherland/fatherland aren't as often applied to countries in the Americas, even if many of us have lived here for a dozen generations or more.

The source for the below paragraph can be found here.

Motherland is the national personification of the concept of indonesia. The hindu religion, referring to the mother earth goddess earth or mother earth. The sky father is the father or lord of the sky. Meaning motherland for indonesia is none other than my fatherland, my blood spilled soil, shelter, land that is holy, sacred lands, fields and forests of the mountain lake, store of wealth. The motherland into the figure of a beloved mother, mother who cradles and raise their children, who can grieve, grieve, tears, moaning and praying, rejoicing, and a place to to worship and serve. All citizens of indonesia for the child, the child or his beloved son, since this is a national concept, the meaning of the context to talk about the concept of statehood. Indonesia is indonesia and is absorbed and interpreted the concept of special significance in the realm of national struggle indonesia.

As to a “rule” for the use of fatherland vs motherland, I think the choice would depend upon the connotation sought by the author in a particular context.

Fatherland suggests government and order.

Motherland connotes birth and nurturing.

  • I have checked out your answer Dec 6, 2013 at 9:40
  • I'd never thought about that difference, but I like it.
    – J.R.
    Dec 6, 2013 at 10:32
  • 1
    -1 for not citing where you took that quote from.
    – J.R.
    Dec 7, 2013 at 7:59
  • Fine i have mentioned.
    – GrIsHu
    Dec 7, 2013 at 8:04
  • 1
    Also see the answer's source here, and here (or here). Jan 17, 2014 at 23:14

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