pa·​ter·​nal pə-ˈtər-nᵊl How to pronounce paternal (audio)
: of or relating to a father
offered his children some paternal advice
paternal responsibilities
: like that of a father
paternal benevolence
: received or inherited from one's male parent
lived and worked on his paternal farm
: related through one's father
paternal grandfather
paternally adverb

Examples of paternal in a Sentence

He did not neglect his paternal responsibilities after the divorce.
Recent Examples on the Web The tone throughout Strength is by turns optimistic, rueful, and paternal. Will Hermes, Rolling Stone, 17 Nov. 2023 The property was purchased by his paternal grandfather to give the financially struggling young family a place to reboot their lives. Robert Thorson, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Nov. 2023 Daniel is the oldest of the bunch and has four children: Judith Kailee, Wellington Rooney (named after his late paternal grandfather), Ann MacKenna and Blaise Rooney. Emily Weaver, Peoplemag, 13 Nov. 2023 This used to be the billiards room, where my paternal grandfather—Carolina’s great-grandfather—worked. CAROLINA: Racking up balls for white men, cleaning their spittoons. Anna Deavere Smith, The Atlantic, 13 Nov. 2023 Fascinatingly, Garner’s paternal grandfather was a follower of Horace Fletcher, a.k.a. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 12 Nov. 2023 In Cambodia, her paternal grandfather had been a tailor. Carolina A. Miranda, Los Angeles Times, 9 Nov. 2023 His paternal grandfather, Simon Hevesi, had been the chief rabbi of Hungary. Sam Roberts, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 In the late 1970s and 1980s, Blige, born in 1971, and her sister LaTonya spent the hot months between the care of maternal and paternal grandparents off Highway 17 in Fleming and Richmond Hill, Georgia. Zandria Robinson, Glamour, 1 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'paternal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Late Latin paternalis, from Latin paternus paternal, from pater

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near paternal

Cite this Entry

“Paternal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


pa·​ter·​nal pə-ˈtərn-ᵊl How to pronounce paternal (audio)
: fatherly
paternal advice
: received or inherited from one's father
: related through the father
a paternal grandfather
paternally adverb

from Latin paternalis "fatherly," from earlier paternus (same meaning), from pater "father" — related to padre, patron, pattern

More from Merriam-Webster on paternal

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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