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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos said her father was in the hospital for nearly a month because of COVID-19 last year. BostonGlobe.com, "Rhode Island administers its 1 millionth COVID-19 vaccine," 11 May 2021 That one was out of its control as the top 100 recruit couldn’t turn down the chance to play with his family, and his father is an assistant coach at IU. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Should Ohio State football be worried about Kentucky winning another offensive line recruiting battle? Buckeyes Recruiting," 11 May 2021 Her father was maintenance superintendent and her mother a CRNA at the local hospital. Alice Adams, Chron, "Annual Salute to Nurses honors nurse heroes (sponsored)," 10 May 2021 While his father was stoic, the suspect's mom became teary-eyed as her son appeared on the screen and was read his rights. Tim Fitzsimons, NBC News, "14-year-old charged with murder after death of 13-year-old Florida girl," 10 May 2021 Growing up, Turner said, her father was emotionally abusive and manipulative. Washington Post, "Ex-police chief’s daughter details terrorizing act in court filing," 9 May 2021 His father was executive vice president, and later chairman, of du Pont, and his mother was involved in amateur theatricals. New York Times, "Pete du Pont, Ex-Delaware Governor Who Ran for President, Dies at 86," 9 May 2021 There, Zuniga implored U.S. officials to send the boy’s father back to Canada. Los Angeles Times, "Separated at the U.S.-Canada border: For a father and son, 90 miles is a distance too far," 7 May 2021 The link is also a personal one: His father was a farm worker and Ramirez worked as one as a teen. Christopher Brito, CBS News, "Undefeated boxer Jose Ramirez worked as an agricultural worker as a teen. Now, he's dedicating his next fight to them.," 7 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Born in Atlanta in 1935, father a postal worker, mother a cook and caterer, raised in public housing, waited tables at his mother’s events. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "America Loses a Wise Man," 4 Mar. 2021 In the West, Fakhrizadeh was commonly referred to as Iran's Robert Oppenheimer, the American scientist who helped father the atomic bomb in 1945, and was considered among the most important nuclear scientists in Iran. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Scientist seen as architect of Iran's nuclear program assassinated," 27 Nov. 2020 Egyptian priests began to teach that the god Amun had incarnated himself in the person of Caesar, the most powerful man in the world at the time, to father the baby prince. Alamy/ Aci, National Geographic, "Egypt's last pharaoh was the 'love child' of Caesar and Cleopatra," 15 Oct. 2020 Diaz, now father to a son and a daughter, attended Greenwood High School and Indiana University. David Lindquist, The Indianapolis Star, "TV anchor Ben Hill is leaving WTHR, and a very familiar face will succeed him," 8 Sep. 2020 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

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

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Father.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/father. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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
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.

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

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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