[fah-th er-lis]


not having a living father: a fatherless boy.
not having a known or legally responsible father.

Origin of fatherless

before 1000; Middle English faderles, Old English fæderlēas. See father, -less
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fatherless

Contemporary Examples of fatherless

  • Fatherless and emotionally needy, du Pont was a loner who sought companionship and adoration—usually at great financial cost.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Foxcatcher’s Real-Life Psycho Killer

    Marlow Stern

    November 18, 2014

  • All the shirtless photos hunting tigers and harpooning whales are love letters to the endless queues of fatherless girls.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Russia’s Gold Digger Academy

    Peter Pomerantsev

    November 11, 2014

Historical Examples of fatherless

  • My child––what will she do––poor, motherless, fatherless girl––all alone, all alone––.

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • The other fatherless creatures lay in the little dressing-room.

    The Doctor's Family

    Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant

  • They spare neither widow nor fatherless, nor have they so much as a bed to lie on.

  • By Angus Rothesay's bed they stood—the widow and the fatherless!


    Dinah Maria Craik, (AKA Dinah Maria Mulock)

  • I brought with me my three fatherless children, so our family numbered twelve.

British Dictionary definitions for fatherless



having no father
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 fatherless

Old English fæderleas; see father (n.) + -less.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper