[ fah-ther ]
See synonyms for: fatherfatheredfatherlike on Thesaurus.com

  1. a man who begets offspring; a male parent.

  2. Often Father . one’s own male parent: When we were kids, Father read to us regularly.My father is visiting us next week.

  1. a father-in-law, stepfather, foster father, male adoptive parent, or male guardian.

  2. Usually Father . a term of address for a male parent or a man having or regarded as having the status, function, or authority of a male parent: How are you, Father?

  3. any male ancestor, especially the founder of a family or line; progenitor.

  4. a man providing care or exercising influence or authority like that of a male parent: The late professor was a father to all his students.

  5. the qualities characteristic of a father, such as paternal affection, protectiveness, responsibility, etc.: He had been quite a rake, but his newborn daughter quickly brought out the father in him.

  6. a man who has originated or established something: Freud is often called the father of modern psychology.The founding fathers of America took care to separate church and state.

  7. an early form; forerunner or prototype: The horseless carriage was the father of the modern automobile.

  8. one of the most well-known or prominent men in a city, town, etc.: There was a scandal involving several of the city fathers.

  9. Chiefly British. the oldest living or serving member of a society, profession, etc.: Compare dean (def. 3).

  10. a title for something personified as an older or elderly man: Father Time.

  11. a term of familiar address for an old or elderly man.

  12. Often the Father .Theology.

  13. Also called church father .Church History. any of the chief early Christian writers, whose works are the main sources for the history, doctrines, and observances of the church in the early ages.

  14. Ecclesiastical.

    • Usually Father . a title of reverence, as for church dignitaries, officers of monasteries, monks, confessors, and especially priests.

    • Often Father . a person bearing this title: He is a father in the Catholic church.

  15. fathers, Roman History. conscript fathers.

  1. being a male parent: The father penguin rests the egg on his feet and covers it with a fold of warm skin.

verb (used with object)
  1. to beget; be the father of: He fathered seven children over three marriages.

  2. to be the male creator, founder, or author of; originate.

  1. to care for or protect like a father; act paternally toward: He’s always fathering me and checking the oil in my car.After Dad died, my uncle fathered my brother and me.

  2. Archaic. to acknowledge oneself the father or originator of: He would only father the novel if it became popular.

  3. Archaic. to assume as one's own; take the responsibility of.

  4. Archaic. to charge someone with the begetting of: Do not try to father the boy on me.

verb (used without object)
  1. to perform the tasks or duties of a male parent; act paternally: He fathers like he’s been doing it for years, though his kid is only three months old.

Origin of father

First recorded before 900; Middle English fader, Old English fæder; cognate with Dutch vader, German Vater, Old Norse fathir; akin to Armenian hayr, Greek patḗr, Irish athair, Latin pater, Persian pedar, Sanskrit pitar-

Other words from father

  • fa·ther·like, adjective

Words Nearby father

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use father in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for father (1 of 2)


/ (ˈfɑːðə) /

  1. a male parent

  2. a person who founds a line or family; forefather

  1. any male acting in a paternal capacity: Related adjective: paternal

  2. (often capital) a respectful term of address for an old man

  3. a male who originates something: the father of modern psychology

  4. a leader of an association, council, etc; elder: a city father

  5. British the eldest or most senior member in a society, profession, etc: father of the bar

  6. (often plural) a senator or patrician in ancient Rome

  7. the father of informal a very large, severe, etc, example of a specified kind: the father of a whipping

  1. to procreate or generate (offspring); beget

  2. to create, found, originate, etc

  1. to act as a father to

  2. to acknowledge oneself as father or originator of

  3. (foll by on or upon) to impose or place without a just reason

Origin of father

Old English fæder; related to Old Norse fathir, Old Frisian feder, Old High German fater, Latin pater, Greek patēr, Sanskrit pitr

Derived forms of father

  • fathering, noun

British Dictionary definitions for Father (2 of 2)


/ (ˈfɑːðə) /

  1. God, esp when considered as the first person of the Christian Trinity

  2. Also called: Church Father any of the writers on Christian doctrine of the pre-Scholastic period

  1. a title used for Christian priests

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with father


see like father, like son.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.