paterfamilias

noun

pa·​ter·​fa·​mil·​i·​as ˌpa-tər-fə-ˈmi-lē-əs How to pronounce paterfamilias (audio)
ˌpä-,
ˌpā-
plural patresfamilias ˌpā-ˌtrēz- How to pronounce paterfamilias (audio)
ˌpä-ˌtrās-
1
: the male head of a household
2
: the father of a family
3
: a man who originates or is a leading figure in something (such as a movement, discipline, or enterprise)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web There’s also a concern about acting as if your son were a source of shame, a secret to be hidden from the paterfamilias. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 9 Aug. 2022 In a sense this is a classic family drama: the struggle over the paterfamilias’s legacy, complete with allegations of late-in-life changes to the will. Benjamin Soskis, Town & Country, 27 Oct. 2022 Schumer’s actions as paterfamilias of Senate Democrats are often informed by his New York sensibilities. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 13 Sep. 2022 Andy Garcia plays the paterfamilias in this 2022 remake of the 1991 remake of the 1950 comedy. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 12 June 2022 Andy Garcia plays the paterfamilias in this 2022 remake of the 1991 remake of the 1950 comedy. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 12 June 2022 Andy Garcia plays the paterfamilias in this 2022 remake of the 1991 remake of the 1950 comedy. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 12 June 2022 Andy Garcia plays the paterfamilias in this 2022 remake of the 1991 remake of the 1950 comedy. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 12 June 2022 Andy Garcia plays the paterfamilias in this 2022 remake of the 1991 remake of the 1950 comedy. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 12 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paterfamilias.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Latin, from pater father + familias, archaic genitive of familia household — more at father, family

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of paterfamilias was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near paterfamilias

Cite this Entry

“Paterfamilias.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paterfamilias. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on paterfamilias

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Fashionable Words

  • dog-sunglasses-scarf
  • Which of these items is named for a deadly weapon?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY