[ puh-tur-ni-tee ]
/ pəˈtɜr nɪ ti /


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.

Nearby words

  1. paternal,
  2. paternalism,
  3. paternalist,
  4. paternalistic,
  5. paternally,
  6. paternity leave,
  7. paternity suit,
  8. paternity test,
  9. paternoster,
  10. paterson

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

Examples from the Web for paternity

British Dictionary definitions for paternity


/ (pəˈtɜːnɪtɪ) /


  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

Medicine definitions for paternity


[ pə-tûrnĭ-tē ]


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.