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 avuncularity (audio) , -​ˈler-​ə-​ \ noun
avuncularly \ ə-​ˈvəŋ-​kyə-​lər-​lē How to pronounce avuncularly (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

In Alcott’s Little Women, Jo does end up getting married in the end: not to Laurie, but to the avuncular professor Bhaer. Constance Grady, Vox, "The trailer for Greta Gerwig’s Little Women promises a focus on women’s ambition, not romance," 13 Aug. 2019 But the current chief secretary, Matthew Cheung, an avuncular 68-year-old who is approaching retirement, has not publicly evinced any interest in moving up. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, "Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Is Disheartened, but No Successor Is in Sight," 5 Aug. 2019 His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation.’’ With his white hair, bow tie, and puckish smile, Justice Stevens had the look of an avuncular professor. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "John Paul Stevens, liberal leader on Supreme Court, dies at 99," 16 July 2019 Possibly too avuncular Wreck it Ralph Rabbit Hutch makes the Europa League spots on virtue of being a serious unit. SI.com, "Premier League Managers: Ranking All 20 Bosses by How Hard They Are," 6 Aug. 2019 One way or another, 2019 feels like the end of the road in the North Side of Chicago for Joe Maddon, the avuncular skipper of the Cubs who has spent the two-plus seasons since the team won a World Series watching things go slowly downhill. The Si Staff, SI.com, "MLB Trade Deadline: Who's Facing the Most Pressure?," 17 July 2019 Blessing skillfully delineates the differences between the avuncular Andrey and the uptight John, and NCRT’s two actors prove adept both at inhabiting those characters and tracing the ways their relationship shifts toward play’s end. (aaron Rumley), San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Review: North Coast Rep’s quietly affecting ‘A Walk in the Woods’ finds relevance beyond Cold War," 3 June 2019 The most recognizable member of that council has been Omar Alloush, an avuncular man with gray hair and a round face that belie his record as an energetic political operator. Washington Post, "How American neglect imperils the victory over ISIS," 19 Apr. 2018 Schumer was in his usual avuncular style, his reading glasses firmly perched on his nose. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Nancy Pelosi's Red Fire Coat is Officially Available to Buy," 14 Mar. 2019

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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Statistics for avuncular

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for avuncular

The first known use of avuncular was in 1831

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English Language Learners Definition of avuncular

: like an uncle : kind or friendly like an uncle

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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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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