• synonyms


See more synonyms for paternal on Thesaurus.com
  1. characteristic of or befitting a father; fatherly: a kind and paternal reprimand.
  2. of or relating to a father.
  3. related on the father's side: one's paternal grandfather.
  4. derived or inherited from a father: paternal traits.
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Origin of paternal

1400–50; late Middle English < Late Latin paternālis, equivalent to Latin patern(us) paternal (pater father + -nus adj. suffix) + -ālis -al1
Related formspa·ter·nal·ly, adverbnon·pa·ter·nal, adjectivenon·pa·ter·nal·ly, adverbun·pa·ter·nal, adjectiveun·pa·ter·nal·ly, adverb


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1. See fatherly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

benevolent, concerned, protective, solicitous, vigilant, patrimonial, patrilineal

Examples from the Web for paternal

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for paternal


  1. relating to or characteristic of a father, esp in showing affection, encouragement, etc; fatherly
  2. (prenominal) related through the fatherhis paternal grandfather
  3. inherited or derived from the male parent
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Derived Formspaternally, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from Late Latin paternālis, from Latin pater 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 paternal


early 15c., from Old French paternal "of a father" (12c.), from Medieval Latin paternalis, from Latin paternus "of a father, fatherly," from pater (see father (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

paternal in Medicine


  1. Relating to or characteristic of a father or fatherhood.
  2. Received or inherited from a father.
  3. Related through one's father.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.