Definition of paternal in English:

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Pronunciation: /pəˈtəːn(ə)l/


1Of or appropriate to a father: he reasserted his paternal authority
More example sentences
  • Her status in law compared with an adult son still living in his father's house, under paternal authority.
  • Needless to say, social life is charged with signs that affirm the paternal authority of those in power.
  • Western tradition dictated that that authority should be paternal.
on one's father's side, patrilineal, patrimonial
1.1Showing a kindness and care associated with a father; fatherly: my elders in the newsroom kept a paternal eye on me
More example sentences
  • He denies feeling more paternal towards the dancers these days, but owns up to " avuncular".
  • His style with the crews is almost paternal, strong yet fair.
  • There was this strange feeling inside him as he held her, almost paternal, but not quite.
protective, vigilant, concerned, solicitous, kindly, warm, friendly, benevolent, compassionate, sympathetic
2 [attributive] Related through the father: his father and paternal grandfather were porcelain painters
More example sentences
  • It was the fashion that the first son was named after the paternal grandfather and the second after the father and so on.
  • Iraqi Arabs have very long names, consisting of their first name, their father's name, their paternal grandfather's name, and finally their family name.
  • Seth's father, three uncles, and paternal grandfather, along with a number of cousins and subsequent generations of relatives, were carpenters.



Pronunciation: /pəˈtəːn(ə)li/
Example sentences
  • It also entails the replacement, at least partially, of cold, ruthless, impartial legal discourse with a firm but paternally supportive discourse.
  • He is taller than me now, and likes to put his arm paternally around my shoulder.
  • The unequal expression in mammals of some maternally and paternally derived genes known as genomic imprinting reduces the masking benefits of diploidy.


Late Middle English: from late Latin paternalis, from Latin paternus 'fatherly, belonging to a father', from pater 'father'.

  • plebeian from mid 16th century:

    This is based on Latin plebeius, from plebs, ‘the common people’, as opposed to the more aristocratic patricians who were the ‘fathers of their country’, getting their name from Latin pater ‘father’ (source of other words such as paternal (Late Middle English)). The same base is shared by plebiscite from the same period.

Words that rhyme with paternal

colonel, diurnal, eternal, external, fraternal, infernal, internal, journal, kernel, maternal, nocturnal, supernal, vernal

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pa¦ter|nal

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