[ puh-tur-nl ]
/ pəˈtɜr nl /


characteristic of or befitting a father; fatherly: a kind and paternal reprimand.
of or relating to a father.
related on the father's side: one's paternal grandfather.
derived or inherited from a father: paternal traits.

Nearby words

  1. patentor,
  2. pater,
  3. pater patriae,
  4. pater, walter horatio,
  5. paterfamilias,
  6. paternalism,
  7. paternalist,
  8. paternalistic,
  9. paternally,
  10. paternity

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 forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for paternal

British Dictionary definitions for paternal


/ (pəˈtɜːnəl) /


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

Word Origin for paternal

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.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for paternal


[ pə-tûrnəl ]


Relating to or characteristic of a father or fatherhood.
Received or inherited from a father.
Related through one's father.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.