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  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.

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

Synonyms for paternal

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

Examples from the Web for paternal

Contemporary Examples of paternal

Historical Examples of paternal

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
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

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