[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. grande dame,
  2. grande prairie,
  3. grande-terre,
  4. grandee,
  5. grandeur,
  6. grandfather clause,
  7. grandfather clock,
  8. grandfather's chair,
  9. grandfather's clock,
  10. grandfatherly

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

British Dictionary definitions for grandfather


/ (ˈɡrænˌfɑːðə, ˈɡrænd-) /


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