pa·​ter·​nal | \pə-ˈtər-nᵊl \

Definition of paternal 

1a : of or relating to a father offered his children some paternal advice paternal responsibilities

b : like that of a father paternal benevolence

2 : received or inherited from one's male parent lived and worked on his paternal farm

3 : related through one's father paternal grandfather

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Other Words from paternal

paternally \ pə-​ˈtər-​nᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Examples of paternal in a Sentence

He did not neglect his paternal responsibilities after the divorce.

Recent Examples on the Web

Her editor, Frank (Miguel Sandoval), is a paternal figure who sends her back to her hometown, Wind Gap, to cover the murders. Matthew Gilbert,, "The mysteries of HBO’s addictive ‘Sharp Objects’ cut deep," 4 July 2018 She and his biological father (Gary Smiley) band together to save him from the sinister paternal figure who is dead set on imprisoning the boy in a gilded cage of his own. Dan Jakes, Chicago Reader, "Pink Orchids and The Green Bay Tree look back at the bad old days of 20th-century queer life," 20 June 2018 For the paternal figure in your life who is especially interested in well being and longevity, here are some ideas to help him stay active and healthy -- plus a tip for the wellness journey of a lifetime. Kavita Daswani,, "Father's Day gift ideas for the fitness-minded dad," 8 June 2018 Some fathers are no longer in the picture; some relationships are complicated; some have more than one paternal figure in their lives. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "The Greater Meaning of Meghan Markle’s Powerful Walk Down the Aisle," 19 May 2018 The movement folded shortly thereafter, but not before Sharpton met Teddy Brown, whose father, singer and songwriter James Brown, became a paternal figure to Sharpton before Brown's death in 2006. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Who is Al Sharpton, the man eulogizing Stephon Clark? | The Sacramento Bee," 28 Mar. 2018 Like many Pawnee and Choctaw children, my paternal uppit (grandfather) and pokní (grandmother) were educated at Pawnee Indian School and Wheelock Academy, two of many Native boarding schools, respectively. Rory Taylor, Teen Vogue, "The Current Border Crisis Feels All Too Familiar for Indigenous Peoples in the United States," 12 July 2018 The opening swath is enormously enlivened by an eccentric party-thrower called Peter Charming, one of Gold’s mother’s beaus who becomes something of a paternal force for the young boy. William Giraldi, The Seattle Times, "Glen David Gold’s new memoir is ‘a soiree of heart-wreck wised up by humor’," 9 July 2018 These positions come with benefits such as maximum 20-week maternal/paternal leave, health insurance, disability insurance, and Career Choice — a program where Amazon offers up to 95 percent full coverage on in-demand related classes. Madelyn Dibley, Detroit Free Press, "Amazon holds hiring fair for Romulus distribution center," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paternal.' 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 paternal

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

History and Etymology for paternal

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

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Statistics for paternal

Last Updated

25 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for paternal

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

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English Language Learners Definition of paternal

: of or relating to a father

: related through the father


pa·​ter·​nal | \pə-ˈtər-nᵊl \

Kids Definition of paternal

1 : of or like that of a father : fatherly “I wasn't offering it to you, Poliakoff,” snapped Karkaroff, his warmly paternal air vanishing …— J. K. Rowling, Goblet of Fire

2 : related through the father my paternal cousins

Other Words from paternal

paternally adverb

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Comments on paternal

What made you want to look up paternal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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