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 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
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 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

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

From her early years in southwest France to her teenage years in the Congo, the singer — whose father traveled for his job in the oil industry, according to The Guardian — has called several countries her home. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "French Musician Jain Talks Her Global Influences and Political Music at Coachella 2019," 13 May 2019 Billionaire Naguib Sawiris, whose father founded Egypt’s Orascom conglomerate, is one of the guarantors for the $10 million bail bond posted by former Abraaj Group executive Mustafa Abdel-Wadood in federal court in New York. Simon Clark, WSJ, "Egyptian Billionaire Sawiris Backs Bail for Abraaj’s Abdel-Wadood," 9 May 2019 Per People while at the gym, Prince Harry met 12-year-old Iestyn Jones whose father had passed away seven years ago. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Discussed Grief of Losing Princess Diana with a Boy Who'd Lost His Father," 2 Feb. 2019 Kersch Schultz's father told him in no uncertain terms to get a real job, but Kersch Schultz urged him to keep at it. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Who Is Sheri Kersch Schultz, Howard Schultz's Wife and Nonprofit President?," 30 Jan. 2019 Once on the bus, the father told Border Patrol that the minor was sick with a fever and vomiting. Aaron Rupar, Vox, "Migrant girl dies in Border Patrol’s custody," 15 Dec. 2018 The victim’s father also told ABC7NY that the two didn’t exchange words on the train. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Person of interest ID'd in Times Square subway station attack," 2 Oct. 2018 The funny father loves to poke fun at the liberal community, which includes his son-in-law Ryan (Jordan Masterson), who Mike often butts heads with. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'Last Man Standing' Star Tim Allen Admits He Likes to 'Poke Fun at Very Brittle Liberals'," 3 May 2019 Many of the attractive males—most often of the celebrity type—who have been labeled as zaddies are not fathers. Puja Prakash, Vogue, "The Zaddies, Living and Dead, of Game of Thrones," 3 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In 1997, a U.S. court ruled that Khan had fathered a child in America. Munir Ahmed, Fox News, "Pakistan parliament elects Imran Khan's ally as speaker," 15 Aug. 2018 And when American Media paid a doorman who alleged that Mr. Trump fathered a child with one of his employees, a company executive ordered reporters to stop investigating after speaking with Mr. Cohen. Michael Rothfeld, WSJ, "National Enquirer’s Yearslong Dealings With Trump Lawyer Fall Under Federal Scrutiny," 25 July 2018 There are no figures about the number of children fathered by Catholic priests. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "Priest’s son demands Vatican attention for clergy’s children," 20 Feb. 2019 And there are questions about whether Michael Brunner was fathered by Manson and whether Jason Freeman is really his grandson. Brian Melley, Fox News, "Charles Manson corpse not expected to be on ice much longer," 8 Mar. 2018 By 2014, about 100 babies had been born in the group, and the researchers used DNA, collected from the gorillas’ feces, to work out how many babies each male had fathered. Alison Gopnik, WSJ, "For Gorillas, Being a Good Dad Is Sexy," 30 Nov. 2018 Kenton liked the commercial and was disheartened by the comments about black men not sticking around to father their children. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "Cheerios ad brings on the nuts," 1 June 2013 Children fathered by their Muslim captors posed a more complex challenge. Isabel Coles And, WSJ, "Nisreen’s Choice: Women Rescued From Islamic State Are Told to Leave Children Behind," 23 Aug. 2018 So are Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård as her old boyfriends, Sam, Harry and Bill, any one of whom might have fathered Sophie, and all of whom help Sophie evoke her mother’s past. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ Review: A Pop Sequel With Pep," 19 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

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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Statistics for father

Last Updated

26 May 2019

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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
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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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 strong desire or propensity

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