father

1 of 2

noun

fa·​ther ˈfä-t͟hər How to pronounce father (audio)
plural fathers
1
a(1)
: a male parent
(2)
: a man who has begotten a child
also : a male animal who has sired an offspring
b capitalized
(1)
(2)
: the first person of the Trinity (see Trinity sense 1)
2
: forefather
the founding fathers
3
a
: 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

5
a
: 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
fatherhood noun
fatherless adjective
fatherlike adjective or adverb

father

2 of 2

verb

fathered; fathering ˈfät͟h-riŋ How to pronounce father (audio)
ˈfä-t͟hə-

transitive verb

1
a
: beget
b
: to be the founder, producer, or author of
fathered the improvement plan
c
: to accept responsibility for
2
a
: 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

intransitive verb

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

Example Sentences

Noun 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. Verb 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The next day his brother called to tell him that 3,000 miles away, in Wilmington, Del., their father had died. Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2022 When his father died in December 2020, Christian got a tattoo of a queen chess piece on his left arm to honor him. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 1 Dec. 2022 The son of a machinist, Coleman was only 13 years old when his father died. Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant, 30 Nov. 2022 But in 2003, when Kassanavoid was just eight years old, her father died of cancer. Cindy Kuzma, SELF, 30 Nov. 2022 But his father died in 1981 and all manner of legal battles ensued, some of them between Michael Butler and his siblings and other parties. Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune, 29 Nov. 2022 Knowing that his father had died at 50, Cooper liked the idea of leaving behind a record for his two young boys — Wyatt, 2, and Sebastian, 9 months. Robin Pogrebin, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2022 Her mother, who had an A.L.S. diagnosis, had spent a year and a half on the service, and her father-in-law had died in hospice shortly before the trial. Ava Kofman, The New Yorker, 28 Nov. 2022 Millien’s father died when the boy was three, but Millien, Onwuachi noted, had not hardened himself to the world. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2022
Verb
Yet his choice to father these children has been treated as comedic fodder while raising a plethora of concerns. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, 30 Sep. 2022 Contrary to popular belief, Cannon is not the first celebrity to father multiple children with different women. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, 30 Sep. 2022 The fervently Orthodox communities that encourage men to father large families but deny boys the secular education that would enable them to support those families are doing a disservice to their students and society. WSJ, 16 Sep. 2022 Lord Corlys is the wealthiest man in Westeros and husband to Rhaenys and father to her children. Erik Kain, Forbes, 18 Aug. 2022 And while a man can father multiple sets of children with no one the wiser (just look at Elon Musk), a woman? Katie Gutierrez, Town & Country, 28 July 2022 Nabil’s mother, Louise Braufman, met Roy in 1970 and soon asked him to have a child with an understanding: The musician would never have to father the boy emotionally or financially. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, 28 May 2022 Bowing to that reality, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in May that men who father a child during an affair with a married woman have the right to seek a role in the child's life. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, 10 May 2022 According to the paper, the bounciest males might father more spiderlings by mating with the same female multiple times without being eaten, or by seeking out additional mates. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near father

Cite this Entry

“Father.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/father. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

father 1 of 2

noun

fa·​ther ˈfät͟h-ər How to pronounce father (audio)
ˈfȧth-
1
a
: a male parent
b
capitalized : god sense 1
c
capitalized : the first person of the Christian Trinity
2
3
: a man who cares for another as a father might
4
: a man who invents or begins something
the father of modern science
5
: priest
used especially as a title
fatherhood noun
fatherless adjective

father

2 of 2

verb

fathered; fathering ˈfät͟h-(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce father (audio)
ˈfȧt͟h-
1
b
: to be the founder, producer, or author of
2
: to treat or care for someone as a father

More from Merriam-Webster on father

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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