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 Kai had a friend, Kody Kerbox, whose father, Buzzy, was one of the pioneers. William Finnegan, The New Yorker, 23 May 2022 Her father, Tim Hormes, amassed 195 goals and 61 assists from 1987 to 1990 at Washington College and played professional indoor lacrosse for the Pittsburgh Bulls and the Baltimore Thunder of the National Lacrosse League. Edward Lee, Baltimore Sun, 23 May 2022 His father, Carl Weeks, at one time had considered becoming a concert pianist. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star, 23 May 2022 Her mother was the former Mary Patterson, whose father and uncle started the National Cash Register manufacturing company. Adam Bernstein, Washington Post, 20 May 2022 At the same time, Waters (whose father taught sign language) wanted the soundscape to subtly suggest Theo’s psychological state of mind. Tim Grierson, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2022 It’s a cause — and a region — that means a lot to hotelier Harris Rosen, whose father’s family emigrated to the United States from Ukraine. Amy Drew Thompson, Orlando Sentinel, 13 May 2022 Garcia, whose billionaire father is a major shareholder in Carvana, said the workers losing their jobs will receive four weeks of pay as well as one week for every year of service with the company. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 12 May 2022 Obama, whose Black father was from Kenya and whose white mother was from Kansas, became the country's first Black president, inheriting a nation in deep financial crisis. Aliyah Thomas, ABC News, 12 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Putting the motivations into sharper focus and throwing the scenario even father back in time are the suspects in Florida. Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2022 Some can even be multigenerational: A recent study in the Congo that was published in The Lancet found that men who worked in mines were more likely to father children with birth defects than those who did not. Michael Holtz, The Atlantic, 24 Jan. 2022 How C’mon C’mon director Mike Mills convinced Joaquin Phoenix to father his movie son. Rachel Handler, Vulture, 20 Nov. 2021 Dads who father children and either don’t know about them or don’t claim and help to support and raise them, aren’t always eager to become an instant parent once they are found through DNA matching or on social media. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, 15 July 2021 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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near father

fat hen


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Statistics for father

Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

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