fa·​ther | \ ˈfä-t͟hər How to pronounce father (audio) \
plural fathers

Definition of father

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a male parent
(2) : a man who has begotten a child also : a male animal who has sired an offspring

b capitalized

(1) : god sense 1
(2) : the first person of the Trinity (see Trinity sense 1)
2 : forefather the founding fathers
3a : one related to another in a way suggesting that of father to child
b : an old man used as a respectful form of address
4 often capitalized : a pre-Scholastic (see scholastic sense 1a) Christian writer accepted by the church as an authoritative witness to its teaching and practice

called also church father

5a : one that originates or institutes the father of modern science
b : source … the sun, the father of warmth and light.— Lena M. Whitney
c : prototype the father of all libraries in the country
6 : a priest of the regular clergy broadly : priest used especially as a title
7 : one of the leading men (as of a city) usually used in plural a council of the city fathers


fathered; fathering\ ˈfät͟h-​riŋ How to pronounce fathering (audio) , ˈfä-​t͟hə-​ \

Definition of father (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : beget
b : to be the founder, producer, or author of fathered the improvement plan
c : to accept responsibility for
2a : to fix the paternity or origin of
b : to place responsibility for the origin or cause of collected gossip and fathered it on responsible men— J. A. Williamson
3 : foist, impose

intransitive verb

: to care for or look after someone as a father might

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Other Words from father


fatherhood \ ˈfä-​t͟hər-​ˌhu̇d How to pronounce fatherhood (audio) \ noun
fatherless \ ˈfä-​t͟hər-​ləs How to pronounce fatherless (audio) \ adjective
fatherlike \ ˈfä-​t͟hər-​ˌlīk How to pronounce fatherlike (audio) \ adjective or adverb

Synonyms for father

Synonyms: Noun

dad, daddy, old man, pa, papa (also poppa), pater [chiefly British], pop, sire

Synonyms: Verb

beget, get, sire

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Examples of father in a Sentence


He became a father when he was 30. He's the father of three small children. He has been like a father to me. He was a father to me after my own father died.


He was praised for fathering a plan to improve the city's schools. Paul Revere somehow found room in his small house for the large family he had fathered.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That conclusion was reached in 1963, when John Kennedy was president, but America still has no federal policy in place to guarantee working mothers or fathers paid time off to care for their new babies. The Economist, "America is the only rich country without a law on paid leave for new parents," 19 July 2019 Aschabel’s mother and father left Eritrea in the late 1990s, during that country’s civil war, and met as migrants in Germany. John King, SFChronicle.com, "Life next door to MacArthur BART: ‘It’s like a small town’," 18 July 2019 Osaka was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Tennis Champ Naomi Osaka Talks Success: ‘I Have to Be the Best or I’m Going to Be Homeless’," 16 July 2019 Simone, 11 years old, refused to play until her mother and father were allowed to return to the front row—a sign of the fervent advocacy that would permeate her later work. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Nina Simone’s Childhood Home Is Under Threat. This Campaign Aims to Save it," 15 July 2019 My mother and father were not given that opportunity because their parents could not afford college. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: College for all? Wake up, America," 14 July 2019 Her sister Pippa, brother James, mother Carole, and father Michael have also been seen at the sporting event throughout the past few days. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Arrives at Wimbledon Wearing a Stunning Green Dress," 13 July 2019 After the war, Eva’s mother and Anne’s father would marry. Nancy Nathan, Washington Post, "Can’t get into the Anne Frank House? Try the Dutch Resistance Museum.," 11 July 2019 Arriving in Changchun with her mother and father, Billi finds everyone around her feigning happiness with contagious fervor. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘The Farewell’ Review: Tiptoeing Through a Family Charade," 11 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In January, Autumn gave birth to Kiden, her first calf to be fathered by Miles, a 10-year-old male giraffe who still lives at Greenville Zoo. USA TODAY, "Retired monkeys, freeze-dried blood, ‘Hidden Figures Way’: News from around our 50 states," 14 June 2019 While pondering how Perry could’ve become the man Celeste knew, Season 2 also addresses a detail revealed at the end of the prior season: Perry raped Jane during a one-night stand years ago and subsequently fathered her son, Ziggy (Iain Armitage). Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Big Little Lies Ponders What Makes a Man," 10 June 2019 Jimmy taught, fathered and raised his sons with a thundering velvet hand. orlandosentinel.com, "Deaths in Central Florida: 6/25," 25 June 2019 But last week Johnson supporter and fellow Conservative MP Johnny Mercer was left floundering after a BBC journalist put him on the spot about how many children Johnson has fathered. Sheena Mckenzie, CNN, "Boris Johnson's altercation with girlfriend prompts debate in Britain about politicians' private lives," 24 June 2019 When confronted about raping Jane (Shailene Woodley) and fathering her child years earlier, Perry attacked Celeste, causing Jane, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Renata (Laura Dern) to try and step in and defend their friend. Jodi Guglielmi, PEOPLE.com, "Big Little Lies Fans Rejoice at 'Queen' Meryl Streep Joining the Show: 'Ultimate Shade Thrower'," 9 June 2019 Males have no such limit, and kings of yore have regularly fathered hundreds, or sometimes, as in the case of Genghis Khan, over a thousand children. Quanta Magazine, "How Equality and Inequality Shape the Birds and the Bees," 17 Oct. 2018 Jaycee lived behind a series of fences and tents, even giving birth to two children fathered by her abductor in a ramshackle backyard compound. CBS News, "Jayme Closs: Hometown Hero," 8 June 2019 Seconds before, Jane (Shailene Woodley), encountering Perry for the first time, had recognized him as the man who raped her years ago, and who fathered her son. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Family Values of Big Little Lies," 7 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'father.' 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 father


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for father

Noun and Verb

Middle English fader, from Old English fæder; akin to Old High German fater father, Latin pater, Greek patēr

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Statistics for father

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for father

The first known use of father was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for father



English Language Learners Definition of father

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a male parent
: a man who is thought of as being like a father
formal : a person who was in someone's family in past times



English Language Learners Definition of father (Entry 2 of 2)

: to become the father of (a child) : to make a woman pregnant so that she gives birth to (a child)
of a man : to invent, create, or produce (something)


fa·​ther | \ ˈfä-t͟hər How to pronounce father (audio) \

Kids Definition of father

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a male parent
2 capitalized : god sense 1
4 : a person who cares for another as a father might
5 : a person who invents or begins something the father of modern science
6 : priest
Hint: This sense of father is used especially to address a priest or as a priest's title.

Other Words from father

fatherhood \ -​ˌhu̇d \ noun
fatherless \ -​ləs \ adjective


fathered; fathering

Kids Definition of father (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to become the father of
2 : to care for as a father
3 : to be the founder, producer, or author of He fathered a new style of music.

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More from Merriam-Webster on father

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with father

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for father

Spanish Central: Translation of father

Nglish: Translation of father for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of father for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about father

Comments on father

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


to complain fretfully

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