Definition of father in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfɑːðə/


1A man in relation to his child or children: how like your father you are the art collection was bequeathed to him by his adoptive father
More example sentences
  • The early comics, and this movie, are loaded with family drama - missing fathers, vulnerable fathers, fathers-gone-bad.
  • Most married and had families, some with different daddies than their real fathers, but life went on.
  • This transfer would be valid under the articles of the Company because of your family relationship with your father.
male parent, begetter, patriarch, paterfamilias;
birth/biological father;
adoptive father, foster father, stepfather
informal dad, daddy, pop, poppa, pa, old boy, old man
British informal, dated pater
1.1A male animal in relation to its offspring.
Example sentences
  • Neighboring males often are the genetic fathers of extrapair offspring.
  • The exception was again the chick with few scorable bands, and we concluded that all those chicks were genetic offspring of their social fathers.
  • The males - exemplary fathers among amphibians - stay behind to protect the tadpoles.
1.2 (fathers) literary Ancestors.
Example sentences
  • As the narrative shifts to the preacher's dream work, a girl reiterates her own account of the false prophecy she heard from ancestral fathers.
  • Now for the other point of view - what about outdoor rituals, and why do we need to purify when our ancestral mothers and fathers didn't even know about soap?
  • Our mothers and fathers, recent and ancestral, worked faithfully to open doors shut hard by hatred and denial.
ancestor, forefather, forebear, progenitor, predecessor, antecedent, forerunner, precursor
rare primogenitor
1.3An important male figure in the origin and early history of something: he’s held to be the father of abstract art
More example sentences
  • This is the sport devised by the father of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
  • There are several candidates for a designation of the father of the space age.
  • Teller was known as the father of the H-bomb for his work on developing hydrogen bombs.
originator, initiator, founder, founding father, inventor, creator, maker, author, prime mover, instigator, architect, engineer, designer, deviser, planner, contriver, mastermind
literary begetter
1.4A man who provides care and protection: the prince is widely regarded as the father of the nation
More example sentences
  • It is possible that at the approach of senescence he may make his peace with the world and become a benevolent father to his nation.
  • He now wants to be the father of the nation, a unifying figure.
  • In a typical company, the boss is a ruler and father to his subordinates.
1.5The oldest member or doyen of a society or other body.
leader, elder, senior figure, patriarch, senator, guiding light, official
1.6 (the Father) (In Christian belief) the first person of the Trinity; God.
Example sentences
  • There is only one way to the Father - Jesus Christ.
  • Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
  • Next, the rebuilding of the Temple - the place that Jesus Christ would later call ‘My Father's House’.
God, Lord, Lord God, Deity
humorous Him upstairs, the man upstairs
1.7 (Father) Used as a title of respect for an old and venerable man or for something personified as such a man: Father Thames
More example sentences
  • In the course of the displays the visitor is taken on a journey from the source of Old Father Thames and down its 354 km course to the sea.
2 (also Father) (Often as a title or form of address) a priest: pray for me, father
More example sentences
  • Special speaker will be Redemptorist Priest, Father Johnny Doherty.
  • We would like to welcome our new Parish Priest, Father Barney King, the new Curate in Omeath.
  • The celebrant was Father Martin Tobin, Curate.
priest, pastor, parson, clergyman, father confessor, churchman, man of the cloth, man of God, cleric, minister, preacher;
in French-speaking countries abbé, curé
informal reverend, padre
3 (Fathers or Fathers of the Church) Early Christian theologians (in particular of the first five centuries) whose writings are regarded as especially authoritative.
Example sentences
  • If each tradition derives from the Fathers of the Church, then the churches of East and West have the task of discovering the compatibility of their doctrines.
  • His books and essays on the Fathers of the Church focused on the theological struggles of the early Church to define the faith and the truth of Revelation in Sacred Scripture.
  • As St. Ambrose, one of the Fathers of the Church, wrote: ‘Let Mary's soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness ot the Lord.’


[with object]
1Be the father of: he fathered three children
More example sentences
  • The proportion of twins that are fathered by the same sire has been estimated as 26% and any effect of population size on this value is likely to be small.
  • Territorial sires fathered a greater proportion of the offspring of territorial dams than floater sires.
  • He had fathered six girls with assorted women before siring a boy 12 years ago with his current flame.
be the father of, sire, engender, generate, bring into being, bring into the world, give life to, spawn;
procreate, reproduce, breed
literary beget
1.1 (usually as noun fathering) Treat with the protective care associated with a father: the two males share the fathering of the cubs
More example sentences
  • The crux of their argument is that mothering - as opposed to fathering, or parenting, or care giving - is something unique, and of inestimable value.
  • Topics include mothering, fathering, marriages, family group processes, sibling relations, and families as systems.
  • The culture of the market devalues mothering, fathering, and family life-sending a clear message that the work of raising children is in no way as important or as valuable as work done in the marketplace, work done for money.
1.2Be the source or originator of: a culture which has fathered half the popular music in the world
More example sentences
  • In this, I was following in the steps of Alberto, who originally fathered this fun event.
  • Most of the world's great inventions were fathered by people with the ability to conduct their minds on free-wheeling adventures into the nonexistent, the unconventional, the absurd.
  • Love ‘After the Goldrush/Harvest’ equally, heartfelt songs from the man who fathered the Rev and the Flips.
establish, institute, originate, initiate, put in place, invent, found, create, generate, conceive
1.3 (father someone/thing on) Assign the paternity of a child or responsibility for a book, idea, or action to: a collection of Irish stories was fathered on him
More example sentences
  • Where Freud suffered from bowdlerization, or having fathered on to him all sorts of odd ideas, Jung has been neglected.



how's your father

British informal
Used euphemistically to refer to sexual intercourse.
Example sentences
  • He didn't drag the ditzy blonde off to the first Travelodge he could find for a bit of how's your father, then impregnate her with their love child.
  • There's a favourite old joke in political circles, about two government MPs sneaking into the dunnies at a Labour Party conference to have a bit of how's your father.
  • Of course we are having you on as it features spotty Herberts (well one spotty Herbert) bunking off work for a quick bit of how's your father with plenty of tonsil checking and tongue football, nearly choked on me Guinness I did.

like father, like son

proverb A son’s character or behaviour can be expected to resemble that of his father.
Example sentences
  • But then I realized afterwards that it's another reflection of: like father, like son.
  • Prosecutors in New York say it's a case of like father, like son.
  • James had cut his teeth and earned his spurs and like father, like son, he has not been slow to court the Chinese.



Pronunciation: /ˈfɑːðəlʌɪk/
adjective& adverb
Example sentences
  • He has no ‘fatherlike’ protective tendencies, etc.
  • Dad was in there too, reading the paper or tinkering with our forever-malfunctioning refrigerator or something kitcheny and fatherlike.
  • He relates to high school recruits with his easy, fatherlike personality.


Old English fæder, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vader and German Vater, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin pater and Greek patēr.

  • The Old English word father is related to Dutch vader and German Vater. The proverb like father, like son means that a son's character and behaviour can be expected to resemble that of his father. In this exact form it is recorded from the early 17th century, but the idea with slightly different wording goes back to the Middle Ages. Father Christmas is of obscure origin. His conventionalized image is comparatively recent: in late medieval Europe he became identified with St Nicholas (Santa Claus); in England Father Christmas was a personification of Christmas, a genial red-robed old man who appeared in many 16th-century masques and in mummers' plays. There was a great revival of the celebration of Christmas in the 19th century and Father Christmas acquired (from St Nicholas) the association of present-bringing.

Words that rhyme with father

farther, lather, rather

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: father

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