the state of being a father; fatherhood.
derivation or acquirement from a father.
origin or authorship.


noting or pertaining to a legal dispute in which an unwed mother accuses a man of being the father of her child: a paternity suit.

Origin of paternity

1400–50; late Middle English paternite < Late Latin paternitās. See paternal, -ity Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for paternity



  1. the fact or state of being a father
  2. (as modifier)a paternity suit was filed against the man
descent or derivation from a father
authorship or originthe paternity of the theory is disputed

Word Origin for paternity

C15: from Late Latin paternitās, 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 paternity

mid-15c., "condition of being a father," from Old French paternité (12c.), from Late Latin paternitatem (nominative paternitas) "fatherly care, fatherhood," from Latin paternus "of a father," from pater (see father (n.)). Originally in the ecclesiastical sense; literal sense first recorded 1580s. Meaning "paternal origin" is from 1868.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

paternity in Medicine




The state of being a father; fatherhood.
Descent on a father's side; paternal descent.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.