Patroness vs. Matron

Or…one of Emily’s largest pet peeves.

I hate spelling errors and problems of grammar. I refuse to use the stereotypical expression “grammar Nazi”, due to my years of studying German culture, society and history. But I will admit that I’m a stickler for correct usage of words. And if I learn I’ve been using a word wrong, I will correct my usage and remedy my usage; I will do the same thing with grammar that I have used mistakenly. I know that I’m a snob about it, I can admit that. I’ve always been good at vocabulary usage and grammar…since I was in kindergarten really. My school did reading comprehension tests in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade, before I moved school districts. In 2nd grade I was tested at an 11th-12th grade reading level, and in 3rd grade I was at a post-college reading level. Given that, and the fact that admittedly I lived more with books and very few close friends…I’m a snob about spelling and grammar. I’ve been working on humbling myself though, and I know that everyone has different talents. After all, I’m atrocious at sciences, so I should not be a snob about my talents, because I can always learn in other areas.

But back on track: the point of this.

A patron…i.e. patron god is a god that patronizes a person. So, a god that you are specifically devoted to, that helps you as well. Patron gods help you out, in a type of reciprocal relationship. For example, Apollo has been called a patron to the arts–and some say that he patronizes those who have a talent for music or some artistic pursuits. That’s just one example. Everyone knows that male deities are called “patrons”.

And then you have female deities.

Lots of pagans online call them “matrons”. Which is obnoxious on a few levels. Matron is a woman, someone who has–traditionally–had children. Or at least, is afforded honor and status within society. If you want to take the traditional triple-goddess form (maiden-matron-crone), she is the one with children, or corresponds to the adult, married form. The one that is past the youth of the maiden, but is not yet elderly enough to be the crone. But in any case, a matron is an elder married woman (like matron of honor in a wedding party).

The term that should be used is “patroness”. It’s the feminine form of “patron”. A female that supports a person. So when someone is talking about a female deity that they want support from, they are talking about a “patroness”, not a “matron”.

Patron and patroness…masculine and feminine supporters of a person, giving their support in a form suited. So in terms of deities–support in practice, or whatever the agreement is between the deities and the person involved. When talking about gods and goddesses, those are the correct terms to use, if you want to discuss a patronizing relationship. So a major pet peeve of mine is when people call a goddess a “matron” when they mean “patroness”. Now, if they’re describing the goddess’s role as a matron, that’s completely different.

The pet peeve comes in when I see stuff such as “Apollo is my patron and Hekate is my matron”. They do it because they have the same sound as words, but the people don’t know what they are actually saying. It’s something that could be fixed by a short dictionary search to determine the correct word-usage that the person is looking for. But no, people are generally too complacent to do that. I know that in the grand scheme of things this is a tiny, tiny annoyance of mine…but it is one that drives me nuts.


3 thoughts on “Patroness vs. Matron

  1. Matron is a motherly term, and since that is the type of relationship I have with my goddess, that is what I call her. I do not see it as obnoxious, particularly since it is related in some way to the cult of the Matronae, or Mothers.


  2. Great explanation! Thank you! I actually did a search to find the difference between patroness and matron because of a Bible text in Romans 16, where Paul calls Phoebe “a patroness of many.” While the context is obviously different, the explanation still holds. Again, thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s