fa·​ther | \ˈfä-t͟hər \

Definition of father 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a man who has begotten a child also : sire sense 3

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 , 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 \ noun
fatherless \ ˈfä-​t͟hər-​ləs \ adjective
fatherlike \ ˈfä-​t͟hər-​ˌlīk \ adjective or adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for father

Synonyms: Noun

ancestor, forebear (also forbear), forebearer, forefather, grandfather, primogenitor, progenitor

Synonyms: Verb

beget, get, sire

Antonyms: Noun

descendant (also descendent)

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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

The 24-year-old Guatemalan father crossed illegally at the border with a birth certificate for his 2-year-old daughter last week, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project. Kristina Davis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Trump administration outlines plan to reunify remaining 2,500 separated children," 14 July 2018 But the ramifications of parental leave participation go beyond a father’s newborn bonding time. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "Oprah Winfrey Empire, Angela Merkel, Paternity Leave: Broadsheet July 12th," 12 July 2018 But what was an industrial skill for the father has become a creative act for the son. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "‘Wild With Love’: Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah on the Portraits of Henry Taylor," 12 July 2018 These false and damaging ideas are all manifestations passed from father to son through Young's priesthood. Mica Mcgriggs, Teen Vogue, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Celebrated the 40-Year Anniversary of the Lifted Ban Against Black Members," 11 July 2018 Samarn is reportedly survived by his wife and father. Time, "Meet the Heroes Who Helped Keep 12 Boys Alive in a Flooded Thailand Cave," 11 July 2018 Despite fathers becoming increasingly involved in childrearing, mothers statistically still take on the majority of care, on top of their jobs. Michelle Garcia, Vox, "Serena Williams, working mom hero," 11 July 2018 Afterward, Dulce Gonzalez’s father called the Strunks into the room and gave a speech thanking them. Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, "A storm was ruining this beach wedding. Then a total stranger made the bride an offer.," 12 July 2018 After the bite, the couple moved from the apartment into Owen’s father’s home. Char Adams, PEOPLE.com, "Woman Bit by Spider Must Pay to Leave Infested Apartment — As Couple Worries About New Renters," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Hofburg, who finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby, is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and was sired by Tapit, who fathered the winners of three of the last four Belmonts. Nora Princiotti, BostonGlobe.com, "Bob Baffert is hoping for a good break for Justify in the Belmont Stakes," 6 June 2018 Through his non-profit Pilots to the Rescue, Schneider volunteered his time and pilot skills to fly Jack the red wolf to WCC so the animal could father the new pups. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "With Only 30 Red Wolves Left in the Wild, These 10 Newborn Pups Are Big News," 22 June 2018 As Symansky, Richard had married and fathered another son, who was 19 when his father was arrested. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "He abandoned his family 25 years ago. Now Richard Hoagland owes them $2 million," 29 May 2018 Now, decades later, a lawsuit alleges that the doctor used his own sperm to inseminate Ashby during a fertility treatment procedure, fathering her daughter. Jacqueline Howard And Mayra Cuevas, CNN, "DNA test reveals fertility's doctor's dark secret, lawsuit alleges," 4 Apr. 2018 Tom also fathered five children with his first wife, Lyn Heslop. Emily Davies, PEOPLE.com, "The Osmond Family Requests Prayers as Brother Tom Fights for His Life After Quadruple Bypass Surgery," 10 July 2018 Tian Tian, a male giant panda at the National Zoo, has fathered all of her cubs. Rebecca Bratek, CBS News, "National Zoo's giant panda experiencing "pseudopregnancy," zoo says," 5 July 2018 Grover Cleveland had an illegitimate child with a woman he was accused of raping; likewise, Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slave, Sally Hemings. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, "Who are America's moral leaders?," 14 May 2018 But Sundance, one of the dolphins’ descendants, performs at the marine park and fathered Boo, a calf that was born last October. Johnny Diaz, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Flipper the dolphin calls World Cup winner in Miami," 13 July 2018

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


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


see father entry 1

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Statistics for father

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

: 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 \

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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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 clear from alleged fault or guilt

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