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
(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 plurala 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

intransitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of father in a Sentence

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 Tuberville said the memory of his father is an inspiration. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, "Tommy Tuberville goes low profile to run out clock in runoff with Jeff Sessions," 10 July 2020 President Trump has spoken fondly of his father in the past. CBS News, "Trump a "narcissist" still seeking late father's "favor," niece Mary Trump says in tell-all book," 8 July 2020 The future president had approached two of his father Fred Trump Sr.'s longest-serving employees, his lawyer and his accountant, to draft an amendment to his will. Katherine Doyle, Washington Examiner, "Book: Before daughter-in-law Lara gave 'great' speech supporting Trump, he 'barely even knew who the f--- she was'," 7 July 2020 The women like his mother, who provided for him and his sister despite the absence of their father. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Rev. Al Sharpton Says It's Time To Recommit To The Strength Of Black Women," 6 July 2020 Alaa Arnous and his family found the photo of his father Mohammed online last week, the first proof of his fate since he was seized by Syrian government forces seven years ago. Washington Post, "Families of Syria detainees hope for news amid US sanctions," 6 July 2020 The newest show on this list is a coming-of-age story about an Indian-American girl dealing with the loss of her father. Alex Darus, cleveland, "13 TV shows that break racial stereotypes," 6 July 2020 For Windsor, Canada, resident Kayla Zikic, 30, even the death of her father wasn't enough to get her boyfriend of five years, Dave Toennies, 28, safe passage across the border. Jamie L. Lareau, USA TODAY, "She hasn't seen her Canadian boyfriend in months. They want the same border rights as married couples.," 3 July 2020 She was born and raised in England and immigrated to America in 1991 after the death of her father -- British media magnate Robert Maxwell. Greg Norman, Fox News, "Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?," 3 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Skye never played with because my brother couldn’t father them. Donna Britt, Washington Post, "My brother was killed by police. Now I ask, who does George Floyd belong to?," 26 June 2020 Some in the family say part of the money came from a white man who fathered one of Collier’s ancestors. Los Angeles Times, "Along the Mississippi, Obamacare’s neglected legacy: civil rights," 11 May 2020 Ecclestone joins an illustrious list of celebrities who have fathered children later in life. Jack Guy, CNN, "Former F1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone to be a father again at 89," 3 Apr. 2020 Biden, 50, got pulled into a high-profile paternity lawsuit with an Arkansas woman who fathered one of his four children, which ended in a settlement this month. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "'We live for this music $h!t': Hunter Biden founded record label that folded after missed mortgage payments," 20 Mar. 2020 Biden has fathered four children and is rumored to be expecting a fifth child with his new wife, Melissa Cohen, a filmmaker from South Africa. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "'Where's Hunter?': Judge demands Hunter Biden appear in Arkansas paternity battle," 22 Jan. 2020 Warren Jeffs fathered dozens of children, some of whom have leveled similar allegations against him. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, "Cult Leader Warren Jeffs' Son Struggled With Pain of Abusive Childhood, Half-Sister Says," 4 June 2019 However, research shows that each male in a long-term alliance appears to father a similar number of babies. Jack Guy, CNN, "Male bottlenose dolphins form gangs to get a mate," 1 Apr. 2020 Dear Amy: My brother has recently fathered a child. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Brother’s cheating creates a wave of drama," 7 Mar. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about father

Time Traveler for father

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for father

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Father.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/father. Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for father


How to pronounce father (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!