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

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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 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 An early host was the avuncular Percy Thrower, who showed up in a starched shirt and tie, and dispensed guidance while puffing on a pipe. Washington Post, "Britain’s ‘Gardeners’ World’ is the pandemic escape we didn’t know we needed," 7 Apr. 2021 Hal Holbrook’s turns as the avuncular Stage Manager (who serves as the narrator of the day-to-day events, light or dark, in Grover’s Corners) at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven in 1988 and at Hartford Stage in 2007. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "New ‘Our Town’ book considers impact, enduring relevance of Thornton Wilder’s classic play with look at key Connecticut productions," 19 Feb. 2021 The priest looks on, his elbow on the counter, avuncular and affectionate. Peter Van Agtmael, Magazine, "How photography helps us make sense of this unforgettable year," 8 Dec. 2020 The real Joe Biden, then vice-president, was a teetotaling and avuncular elder statesman, not a hair-metal-loving party animal. The Economist, "The president-elect lacks a silver tongue. That may be an asset," 28 Nov. 2020 Game show king Alex Trebek was an avuncular, dapper host with a school teacher’s efficiency, who left a multi-generational legacy for nerds and trivia aficionados everywhere. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: How the world greets a Biden-Harris win," 9 Nov. 2020 Like any enterprising graphic design firm, Pen & Pixel — a small agency once run out of Houston by Aaron and Shawn Brauch, a pair of very avuncular Italian American brothers — knew how to answer destiny’s call when its hotline rang. Washington Post, "Like most sequels, ‘Savage Mode II’ is an underwhelming blockbuster," 8 Oct. 2020 Doubleday was cast as the avuncular, free-spending fop, while Wilpon was portrayed as a cheap taskmaster who refused to spend big on players. David Waldstein, New York Times, "With Wilpons Set to Cede Control, the Mets End an Era of What-Ifs," 27 Sep. 2020 The avuncular Ishiba may be the most popular candidate among the general public and the LDP's rank-and-file. Fortune, "How the son of strawberry pickers became Japan’s most likely choice for next prime minister," 3 Sep. 2020

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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The first known use of avuncular was in 1831

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Last Updated

14 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Avuncular.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avuncular. Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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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

Britannica English: Translation of avuncular for Arabic Speakers

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