avun·​cu·​lar | \ə-ˈvəŋ-kyə-lər \

Definition of avuncular 

1 : 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

2 : 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

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Other Words from avuncular

avuncularity \ə-​ˌvəŋ-​kyə-​ˈla-​rə-​tē, -​ˈler-​ə-​ \ noun
avuncularly \ə-​ˈvəŋ-​kyə-​lər-​lē \ adverb

The Origin of Avuncular Is Familial

Not all uncles are likeable fellows (Hamlet's murderous Uncle Claudius, for example, isn't exactly Mr. Nice Guy in Shakespeare's tragedy), but "avuncular" reveals that, as a group, uncles are generally seen as affable and benevolent, if at times a bit patronizing. Avuncular derives from the Latin noun avunculus, which translates as "maternal uncle," but since at least the 1830s English speakers have used "avuncular" to refer to uncles from either side of the family or even to individuals who are simply uncle-like in character or behavior. And in case you were wondering, "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

We were greeted by the distillery manager, Michael Heads, a casual avuncular fellow with white hair who introduced himself as Mickey. Liza Weisstuch, New York Times, "The Whisky Chronicles," 23 Apr. 2018 Salvini is a gifted speaker with an avuncular style who dresses casually and uses big hand gestures and punchy sentences. Chico Harlan, Washington Post, "The torchbearer of Italy’s far right is now in power and wants to make good on anti-migrant promises," 4 June 2018 The avuncular musician known as Calvin ii plucks a guitar like a front-porch elder; the vibe is happy, peaceful. Ty Burr, BostonGlobe.com, "Childish Gambino makes a serious statement with ‘This Is America’," 7 May 2018 Gustinis, as one of the only people Gevers would listen to, involved himself as an avuncular ombudsman, breezily telling the Breitmans to sit tight and give him time to broker peace. Gideon Lewis-kraus, WIRED, "The Blockchain: A Love Story—And a Horror Story," 18 June 2018 That’s when the avuncular Joan (Ann Dowd) shows up, a helpful, supportive friend looking to guide Annie toward a paranormal cure for her unending grief. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Close-to-Home Horror of Hereditary," 7 June 2018 After 1870, Cézanne largely stopped painting portraits for a number of years, a period during which he was mentored by the avuncular Camille Pissarro in refinements of the techniques of open-air Impressionism. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "The Lurchingly Uneven Portraits of Paul Cézanne," 21 Feb. 2011 No wonder their respective husbands (an alternately stern and avuncular Chiké Johnson; a cold and distant Matt Zambrano) can seem more like business partners than soul mates, in marriages that are less passionate than convenient. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Rep delivers darkness on the edge of 'Our Town'," 14 Apr. 2018 His demeanor, almost pastoral, was somewhere between avuncular and creepy. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, "Monica Lewinsky finally met Ken Starr — and things got weird, she says," 26 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'avuncular.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of avuncular

1831, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for avuncular

Latin avunculus maternal uncle — more at uncle

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Time Traveler for avuncular

The first known use of avuncular was in 1831

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More Definitions for avuncular



English Language Learners Definition of avuncular

: like an uncle : kind or friendly like an uncle

More from Merriam-Webster on avuncular

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with avuncular

Britannica English: Translation of avuncular for Arabic Speakers

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


living or existing for a long time

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