avun·​cu·​lar ə-ˈvəŋ-kyə-lər How to pronounce avuncular (audio)
: suggestive of an uncle especially in kindliness or geniality
avuncular indulgence
Jovial and avuncular, the President's chief of staff seems oblivious to the pressures that accompany what is arguably the second most powerful job in the land.Craig Unger
: of or relating to an uncle
Two weeks of poker had led to his writing to his uncle a distressed, but confident, request for more funds; and the avuncular foot had come down with a joyous bang.P. G. Wodehouse
avuncularity noun
avuncularly adverb

Did you know?

The Origin of Avuncular Is Familial

Not all uncles are likeable fellows (Hamlet's villainous Uncle Claudius, for example, isn't exactly Mr. Nice Guy in Shakespeare's tragedy), but avuncular reveals that, as a group, uncles are often seen as friendly and kindhearted. Avuncular comes from the Latin noun avunculus, which means "maternal uncle," but since at least the 19th century English speakers have used avuncular to describe uncles from either side of the family, or people who are uncle-like in character or behavior. Avunculus is also an ancestor of the word uncle itself.

Examples of avuncular in a Sentence

a man known for his avuncular charm
Recent Examples on the Web But the season finale truly opened eyes — and its universe — when scrappy dirtbag Eleanor (Kristen Bell) deduced that the avuncular architect guide had hoodwinked them all and that the Good Place was actually...the Bad Place. Ew Staff, EW.com, 8 Jan. 2024 Audio guides to tours of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of the American Indian featured Momaday’s avuncular baritone. Hillel Italie, Fortune, 31 Jan. 2024 Niblock was beloved both for his own work, which began in earnest in the early 1970s, and his avuncular role to fellow artists including Arthur Russell and Glenn Branca. Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork, 9 Jan. 2024 Lester thinks that there’s some special alchemy in the way Brustein was simultaneously an avuncular, loving figure and a bare-knuckle scrapper. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 1 Nov. 2023 Sure, the framing device, involving a P.I. (Kevin Kline) and an angel of death (Virginia Madsen), is a little contrived, and Garrison Keillor’s avuncular drawl may ring false to today’s ears. August Brown, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2023 The show clearly won’t be the same without his authoritative and avuncular presence. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 28 Sep. 2023 Roger Whittaker, an avuncular singer-songwriter whose soothing baritone, virtuosic whistling and gentle interpretations of pop standards earned him an international following for more than four decades, died Sept. 12 at a hospital near Toulouse, France. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 His first outing as the gentle, avuncular wizard came in the franchise’s third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, with director Alfonso Cuarón having personally selected him to replace Harris. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'avuncular.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin avunculus maternal uncle — more at uncle

First Known Use

1831, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of avuncular was in 1831


Dictionary Entries Near avuncular

Cite this Entry

“Avuncular.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avuncular. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

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