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 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

Our first day on the river was a relaxed start to a five-day trip with my boys, husband, and father. Beth Woolsey, Woman's Day, "'My Father and I Approach the World Differently, But an Emergency Brought Us Together'," 4 Oct. 2018 Foster, a father of seven who's been married four times, played piano at McPhee's 2008 wedding to Cokas. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "David Foster Says He Spotted Fiance Katharine McPhee's Talent the Minute He Saw Her on 'American Idol'," 13 July 2018 The company also provides health care to a correctional center in Milan, New Mexico, where AP reported that a 31-year-old father separated from his child was being housed. Washington Post, "AP FACT CHECK: No proof Rauner profits off family separation," 12 July 2018 Specifically, the father of former five-star recruit Brian Bowen was allegedly paid thousands of dollars to help the secure the commitment of his son to play at Louisville in 2017. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Should the NCAA Be Worried About the Lawsuit It's Facing From Former Louisville Players?," 12 July 2018 His first wife, Evadne Priester Cobbs, died in 1973, leaving him a single father of two young teenagers. Carolyn Said, SFChronicle.com, "‘Black Rage’ co-author Dr. Price Cobbs dies at 89," 10 July 2018 Tickets are $10 at 860-933-3147 or stillpickinband@gmail.com and profits will help support the homestead of Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. Courant Community, "Community News For The Putnam-Killingly Edition," 10 July 2018 Here’s another for a young father with three school-age kids and a passion for road racing; he was taken out by a sunburned drunk driver with half a 32-pack of domestic swill in her system. Marc Peruzzi, Outside Online, "The Troubling Rise of the Ghost Bike," 9 July 2018 The family separation issue is especially urgent for the parents of young children who are even more dependent on their mothers and fathers. Anchorage Daily News, "Kids as young as 1 in US court, awaiting reunion with family," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the last three decades, just two males fathered half the calves in the last three decades, and only a third of the females are breeding, just once every decade instead of every five years. New York Times, "Orcas of the Pacific Northwest Are Starving and Disappearing," 9 July 2018 During season one, Connie Britton’s character Vivien Harmon gives birth to two babies; one dies immediately and the other, fathered by the ghostly Tate Langdon (Evan Peters), is raised by Constance (Jessica Lange). Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Ryan Murphy Reveals Cody Fern Will Play the Grown-Up Devil Child from “American Horror Story: Murder House”," 27 July 2018 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

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

8 Dec 2018

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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

: 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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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).


a nest or breeding place

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