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
(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 plurala 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

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

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 As a high schooler in Dayton, Amul Thapar got straight As, was chess champion and captain of the golf team his father Raj said. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Transplanted Kentuckian on top of list for U.S. Supreme Court vacancy," 19 Sep. 2020 About his ordeal, Paige believes Jack got a little help from his father. Christine Pelisek, PEOPLE.com, "Teen Witnessed Dad's Murder and Escaped into the Woods — and Then He Found a Way to Call for Help," 19 Sep. 2020 Officials say an attempt to rescue a 2-year-old girl abducted by her biological father ended in a police shooting on Friday. Audrey Jensen, The Arizona Republic, "Rescue of abducted 2-year-old Mesa girl ends in police shooting in Phoenix," 19 Sep. 2020 The king was not in Thailand and has spent much of his time in Europe since taking the throne from his late father in 2016. NBC News, "Thailand's biggest protest in years targets government and monarchy," 19 Sep. 2020 One path is going to Vietnam, even after seeing what World War II did to his survivor father. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "'Devil All the Time' ending: After so much darkness, is there hope for Tom Holland? (spoilers!)," 19 Sep. 2020 His Hindu father was a refugee from what is today Bangladesh. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "The United Nations: Indispensable or irrelevant?," 18 Sep. 2020 His father fished off a big rock in the bay each day. Jenna Ross Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "These 143 historic boathouses offer a peek into Minnesota's past," 18 Sep. 2020 His parents survived the Holocaust in Germany, his father emerging from Auschwitz alive at the war’s end. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Limited by COVID-19, Jewish community finds ways to keep traditions alive, connections strong," 18 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Biden has fathered four children and is rumored to be expecting a fifth child with his new wife, Melissa Cohen, a filmmaker from South Africa. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "'Where's Hunter?': Judge demands Hunter Biden appear in Arkansas paternity battle," 22 Jan. 2020 Warren Jeffs fathered dozens of children, some of whom have leveled similar allegations against him. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, "Cult Leader Warren Jeffs' Son Struggled With Pain of Abusive Childhood, Half-Sister Says," 4 June 2019 However, research shows that each male in a long-term alliance appears to father a similar number of babies. Jack Guy, CNN, "Male bottlenose dolphins form gangs to get a mate," 1 Apr. 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

22 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Father.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/father. Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for father


How to pronounce father (audio)

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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