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[gran-fah-th er, grand-] /ˈgrænˌfɑ ðər, ˈgrænd-/
the father of one's father or mother.
a forefather.
the founder or originator of a family, species, type, etc.; the first of one's or its kind, or the one being longest in existence:
the grandfather of all steam locomotives.
verb (used with object)
to exempt (something or someone) from new legislation, restrictions, or requirements:
The law grandfathered all banks already operating at the time of passage. He was grandfathered into the pension plan.
Origin of grandfather
late Middle English
late Middle English word dating back to 1375-1425; See origin at grand-, father Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for grandfather
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You couldn't stay in these mountains and be such a man as your grandfather.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Then I again regretted my grandfather's too distinguishing goodness to me.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Years seemed to have fallen from the shoulders of his grandfather.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Maria had warned her not to waken her grandfather, so she admired it in whispers.

    The Little Colonel Annie Fellows Johnston
  • Where does your grandfather spend his day when he goes out with his dogs?

    Green Mansions W. H. Hudson
British Dictionary definitions for grandfather


/ˈɡrænˌfɑːðə; ˈɡrænd-/
the father of one's father or mother
(often pl) a male ancestor
(often capital) a familiar term of address for an old man
(dialect) a caterpillar or woodlouse
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 grandfather

early 15c., from grand (adj.) + father (n.), probably on analogy of French grand-père. Replaced grandsire and Old English ealdefæder. Grandfather clause originally (1900) referred to exemptions from post-Reconstruction voting restrictions in the U.S. South for men whose forebears had voted before the Civil War. Grandfather clock is c.1880, from the popular song; they were previously known as tall case clocks or eight-day clocks.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for grandfather



To give someone a special status or privilege because of service before the time a new or definitive arrangement is made: Some farmers just got grandfathered in, that's true

[1900+; fr the grandfather clause often written into new arrangements in order to be fair to older incumbents or practitioners; the date indicates the earliest instance of grandfather clause]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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