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[fah-th er-lee] /ˈfɑ ðər li/
of, like, or befitting a father.
Obsolete. in the manner of a father.
Origin of fatherly
before 1000; Middle English faderly, Old English fæderlic. See father, -ly
Related forms
fatherliness, noun
pseudofatherly, adverb
unfatherly, adjective
1. Fatherly, paternal refer to the relationship of a male parent to his children. Fatherly has emotional connotations; it always suggests a kind, protective, tender, or forbearing attitude: fatherly advice. Paternal may suggest a kindly, proprietary attitude: paternal interest; but it may also be used objectively, as a legal and official term: his paternal grandmother; paternal estate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for fatherly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She laughed as she spoke, and Guillaume laughed with her in a gay and fatherly way.

  • "You should never judge by appearances," said White, with a fatherly severity.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • Still they have a fatherly care of the young, and are deeply impressed by sentiments of religion.

    Laws Plato
  • Blaine put his hands upon her shoulders in fatherly compassion.

    The Crevice

    William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander
  • My feelings for her were not at all of a fatherly character.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • The boy had no wish to be excused––had no liking for fatherly indulgence.

    Billy Topsail & Company

    Norman Duncan
British Dictionary definitions for fatherly


of, resembling, or suitable to a father
Derived Forms
fatherliness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fatherly

Old English fæderlic; see from father (n.) + -ly (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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