Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

paternal

play
adjective pa·ter·nal \pə-ˈtər-nəl\

Simple Definition of paternal

  • : of or relating to a father

  • : related through the father

Full Definition of paternal

  1. 1 a :  of or relating to a father b :  like that of a father <paternal benevolence>

  2. 2 :  received or inherited from one's male parent

  3. 3 :  related through one's father <paternal grandfather>

pa·ter·nal·ly play \-nəl-ē\ adverb

Examples of paternal

  1. He did not neglect his paternal responsibilities after the divorce.



Origin of paternal

Middle English, from Late Latin paternalis, from Latin paternus paternal, from pater


First Known Use: 15th century


PATERNAL Defined for Kids

paternal

play
adjective pa·ter·nal \pə-ˈtər-nəl\

Definition of paternal

  1. 1 :  of or like that of a father :  fatherly <“I wasn't offering it to you, Poliakoff,” snapped Karkaroff, his warmly paternal air vanishing … — J. K. Rowling, Goblet of Fire>

  2. 2 :  related through the father <my paternal cousins>

pa·ter·nal·ly adverb


Word Root of paternal

The Latin word pater, meaning “father,” and the Greek word patēr give us the root pater or patr. Anyone or anything paternal, such as an aunt or uncle, is related to one's father. A patriarch is a father and ruler of a family or tribe. A patriot is a person who loves his or her fatherland or country. A patron is a person who gives support and approval for a project or artist, as fathers support and approve of their children.



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up paternal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez spindrift kittly-benders duvet
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ