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A parent-in-law is a person who has a legal affinity with another by being the parent of the other's spouse. Many cultures and legal systems impose duties and responsibilities on persons connected by this relationship. A person is a child-in-law to the parents of the spouse, who are in turn also the parents of those sibling-in-laws (if any) who are siblings of the spouse (as opposed to spouses of siblings). Together, the members of this family affinity group are called the in-laws.[1]


A father-in-law is the father of a person's spouse.[2] Two men who are fathers-in-law to each other's children may be called co-fathers-in-law, or, if there are grandchildren, co-grandfathers.


A mother-in-law is the mother of a person's spouse.[3] Two women who are mothers-in-law to each other's children may be called co-mothers-in-law, or, if there are grandchildren, co-grandmothers.

In comedy and in popular culture, the mother-in-law is stereotyped as bossy, unfriendly, hostile, nosy, overbearing and generally unpleasant. They are often depicted as the bane of the husband, who is married to the mother-in-law's daughter. A mother-in-law joke is a joke that lampoons the obnoxious mother-in-law character.

Some Australian Aboriginal languages use avoidance speech, so-called "mother-in-law languages", special sub-languages used when in hearing distance of taboo relatives, most commonly the mother-in-law.

A mother-in-law suite is also a type of dwelling, usually guest accommodations within a family home that may be used for members of the extended family.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "in-law". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  2. ^ "father-in-law". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  3. ^ "mother-in-law". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 12 September 2014.

External links[edit]