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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While Askew's father had told at least one reporter since the end of the season the plan was for his son to return to Kentucky next season, a possible transfer had been rumored behind the scenes for weeks. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "What Devin Askew's decision to transfer from Kentucky means for 2021-22 roster," 5 Apr. 2021 There’s a bronze medal that Tyler Strafaci’s father has kept in his office for years. Tim Reynolds, ajc, "Family legacy: Tyler Strafaci follows grandfather to Masters," 5 Apr. 2021 Montalvo’s estranged husband, 33-year-old Christopher Otero-Rivera, and father-in-law, 64-year-old Angel Luis Rivera, are charged with second-degree murder, abuse of a body and evidence tampering in her death. Monivette Cordeiro, orlandosentinel.com, "Murder trial begins for estranged husband, father-in-law in St. Cloud killing of Nicole Montalvo," 5 Apr. 2021 The student’s father took him to some jazz clubs, and Mackey saw the wildly inventive saxophonist and flutist Roland Kirk play with his band. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Nathaniel Mackey’s Long Song," 5 Apr. 2021 Sensibaugh was also the step-father to Michael and Ben Krause, whose families included seven additional grandchildren. Dave Clark, The Enquirer, "Mike Sensibaugh, former NFL safety from Lockland High School and Ohio State, dies at 72," 5 Apr. 2021 As boundaries between the entertainment sectors continue to blur, the father-and-son team are proud to foster the firm’s growth with multihyphenate entertainers. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Revealed: Billboard's 2021 Top Music Lawyers," 5 Apr. 2021 Mark Love, of Avondale, Arizona, whose late father co-owned a collection of Dillinger artifacts, believes, however, that the car is a great honor to her and a huge part of history that belongs in Northwest Indiana. Michelle L. Quinn, chicagotribune.com, "Decades later, car Dillinger stole in Crown Point returned," 4 Apr. 2021 His father and the family found their answers after two young Latter-day Saint missionaries came to the family farm. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Latest from Sunday’s LDS General Conference: Nelson announces new temples, Oaks expounds on Constitution," 4 Apr. 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.

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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

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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Statistics for father

Last Updated

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Father.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/father. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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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
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.

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Comments on father

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