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 father (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

Other Words from father


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

Synonyms for father

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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 The ups and downs of their surrogate father-son bond is the driving force behind some of the series' best plotlines. Andrew Walsh, EW.com, 20 Sep. 2022 After President Nixon opened U.S. relations with China, Chao’s father went back there and dug up his mother’s bones from her secret grave. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2022 Brittany, who will welcome a baby boy with her NFL star husband early next year, documented the sweet father-daughter moment on Instagram last week. Georgia Slater, Peoplemag, 20 Sep. 2022 Barraza’s father had run a transmission-repair shop in San Jose. Stephen Rodrick, Rolling Stone, 20 Sep. 2022 Kate and Charlotte sat beside husband and father Prince William, who is next in line for the throne. Amy Haneline, USA TODAY, 19 Sep. 2022 The father, also reputed to be in the cartel’s leadership, testified against Guzmán during the drug lord’s federal trial in New York. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Sep. 2022 Wolford declined to comment when asked if the gun belonged to the student’s father or if interviewing the parents was common procedure after an incident like this occurs. Remington Miller, Arkansas Online, 19 Sep. 2022 The crown was made for Elizabeth’s father King George VI during his 1937 coronation. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 19 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 The younger child, in particular, didn’t want to let her father out of her sight. Molly Parker, ProPublica, 22 Apr. 2022 The total included three offspring of Nish, one of Monty and Rose’s 2020 chicks who went on to father the first Ohio nest in more than 80 years. Morgan Greene, Chicago Tribune, 21 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.

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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Time Traveler for father

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near father

fat hen


Father's Day

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Statistics for father

Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Father.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/father. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for father


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: Sense 6 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on father

Nglish: Translation of father for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of father for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about father


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