[fah-th er]
  1. a male parent.
  2. a father-in-law, stepfather, or adoptive father.
  3. any male ancestor, especially the founder of a family or line; progenitor.
  4. a man who exercises paternal care over other persons; paternal protector or provider: a father to the poor.
  5. a person who has originated or established something: the father of modern psychology; the founding fathers.
  6. a precursor, prototype, or early form: The horseless carriage was the father of the modern automobile.
  7. one of the leading men in a city, town, etc.: a scandal involving several of the city fathers.
  8. Chiefly British. the oldest member of a society, profession, etc.Compare dean1(def 3).
  9. a priest.
  10. (initial capital letter) Theology. the Supreme Being and Creator; God.
  11. a title of respect for an elderly man.
  12. the Father, Theology. the first person of the Trinity.
  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.
    1. (often initial capital letter)a title of reverence, as for church dignitaries, officers of monasteries, monks, confessors, and especially priests.
    2. a person bearing this title.
  15. fathers, Roman History. conscript fathers.
verb (used with object)
  1. to beget.
  2. to be the creator, founder, or author of; originate.
  3. to act as a father toward.
  4. to acknowledge oneself the father of.
  5. to assume as one's own; take the responsibility of.
  6. to charge with the begetting of.
verb (used without object)
  1. to perform the tasks or duties of a male parent; act paternally: Somehow he was able to write a book while actively fathering.

Origin of father

before 900; Middle English fader, Old English fæder; cognate with German Vater, Latin pater, Greek patḗr, Sanskrit pitar, Old Irish athir, Armenian hayr
Related formsfa·ther·like, adjective
Can be confusedfarther father further (see usage note at farther)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fathering

Contemporary Examples of fathering

Historical Examples of fathering

  • Who, after all, could blame him for fathering thoughts that ranching was not all it was supposed to be?

  • In my language the Syndic is a father-image which does a good job of fathering.

    The Syndic

    C.M. Kornbluth

  • Slade fathering all life on earth there in the sea with his dead body.

  • It is not her body that his Highness hateth, but her fathering.

    The Fifth Queen

    Ford Madox Ford

  • She looked her stiffest, relishing but little the fathering upon her of this expedient.

    A Bed of Roses

    W. L. George

British Dictionary definitions for fathering


  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
  3. a title used for Christian priests


  1. a male parent
  2. a person who founds a line or family; forefather
  3. any male acting in a paternal capacityRelated adjective: paternal
  4. (often capital) a respectful term of address for an old man
  5. a male who originates somethingthe father of modern psychology
  6. a leader of an association, council, etc; eldera city father
  7. British the eldest or most senior member in a society, profession, etcfather of the bar
  8. (often plural) a senator or patrician in ancient Rome
  9. the father of informal a very large, severe, etc, example of a specified kindthe father of a whipping
verb (tr)
  1. to procreate or generate (offspring); beget
  2. to create, found, originate, etc
  3. to act as a father to
  4. to acknowledge oneself as father or originator of
  5. (foll by on or upon) to impose or place without a just reason
Derived Formsfathering, noun

Word Origin for father

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

Word Origin and History for fathering



Old English fæder "father, male ancestor," from Proto-Germanic *fader (cf. Old Saxon fadar, Old Frisian feder, Dutch vader, Old Norse faðir, Old High German fater, German vater), from PIE *pəter (cf. Sanskrit pitar-, Greek pater, Latin pater, Old Persian pita, Old Irish athir "father"), presumably from baby-speak sound like pa.

The classic example of Grimm's Law, where PIE "p-" becomes Germanic "f-." Spelling with -th- (15c.) reflects widespread phonetic shift in Middle English that turned -der to -ther in many words; spelling caught up to pronunciation in 1500s (cf. burden, murder).



c.1400, from father (n.). Related: Fathered; fathering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with fathering


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.