[gran-fah-th er, grand-]


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 word dating back to 1375–1425; see origin at grand-, father Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for grandfather

Contemporary Examples of grandfather

Historical Examples of grandfather

  • 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.

  • 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



the father of one's father or mother
(often plural) 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

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