[ pey-treez-fuh-mil-ee-uh s, pah-, pa- ]
/ ˌpeɪ triz fəˈmɪl i əs, ˌpɑ-, ˌpæ- /


a plural of paterfamilias.

Nearby words

  1. patos,
  2. patos, lagoa dos,
  3. patr-,
  4. patras,
  5. patres conscripti,
  6. patri,
  7. patri-,
  8. patria potestas,
  9. patrial,
  10. patriarch


[ pey-ter-fuh-mil-ee-uh s, pah-, pat-er- ]
/ ˌpeɪ tər fəˈmɪl i əs, ˌpɑ-, ˌpæt ər- /

noun, plural pa·ter·fa·mil·i·as·es for 1, pa·tres·fa·mil·i·as [pey-treez-fuh-mil-ee-uh s, pah-, pa-] /ˌpeɪ triz fəˈmɪl i əs, ˌpɑ-, ˌpæ-/ for 2.

the male head of a household or family, usually the father.
Roman Law.
  1. the head of the Roman family; a juridical entity who holds the patria potestas.
  2. a person who is not under the patria potestas of another.

Origin of paterfamilias

1425–75; late Middle English < Latin: literally, father (i.e., master) of the household, with archaic genitive form familiās of familia; see family

Related formspa·ter·fa·mil·iar, adjectivepa·ter·fa·mil·iar·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for patresfamilias

  • Isn't it rather the fault of the audience, of your respectable residents, your patresfamilias?

    The Possessed|Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • And what do our patresfamilias, the officials, the wives and daughters, do in such cases?

    The Possessed|Fyodor Dostoevsky

British Dictionary definitions for patresfamilias


/ (ˌpeɪtəfəˈmɪlɪˌæs) /

noun plural patresfamilias (ˌpɑːtreɪzfəˈmɪlɪˌæs)

the male head of a household
Roman law
  1. the head of a household having authority over its members
  2. the parental or other authority of another person

Word Origin for paterfamilias

Latin: father of the family

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 patresfamilias



early 15c., from Latin pater familias "master of a house, head of a family," from pater "father" (see father (n.)) + familias, old genitive of familia "family" (see family).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper