avun·​cu·​lar | \ ə-ˈvəŋ-kyə-lər How to pronounce avuncular (audio) \

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

Other Words from avuncular

avuncularity \ ə-​ˌvəŋ-​kyə-​ˈla-​rə-​tē How to pronounce avuncular (audio) , -​ˈler-​ə-​ \ noun
avuncularly \ ə-​ˈvəŋ-​kyə-​lər-​lē How to pronounce avuncular (audio) \ 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 William 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 19th century 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 Cruise’s Maverick flashes a mischievous avuncular grin beneath his helmet and chases his young charges in F/A-18s all over the Mojave Desert, teaching them new moves while wasting no chance to reassert his own superiority. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 Colin Firth is uncanny as Peterson, mimicking his avuncular bonhomie, and hinting at the stormy temper and dangerous narcissism that lurks beneath it. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 5 May 2022 The grizzled and avuncular Admiral Karl L. Schultz, the current Coast Guard Commandant, is legally required to leave his post by June 1. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 Set around a conference table, the play offers a portrait not of an avuncular artist whose childlike imagination took over the world but of a megalomaniac who cannot brook dissent. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2022 No, my siblings Brother X and Brother XX are smart enough to keep a continent between our sons Zane and Aidan and their avuncular duties. Kevin Fisher-paulson, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 Mar. 2022 Each morning during the Senate Watergate hearings, chaired by Democrat Sam Ervin, the avuncular senator could be seen briefly studying a book held open in front of him by an aide. Washington Post, 18 Feb. 2022 But Elgort is also seven years older than Zegler, and his bearing toward her is nearly avuncular. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 14 Dec. 2021 Recruits have always loved Sitake and his avuncular style. Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of avuncular was in 1831

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Avuncular.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avuncular. Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on avuncular

Britannica English: Translation of avuncular for Arabic Speakers


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