[pey-treez-fuh-mil-ee-uh s, pah-, pa-]


[pey-ter-fuh-mil-ee-uh s, pah-, pat-er-]
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.
  1. the male head of a household or family, usually the father.
  2. 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for patresfamilias

Historical Examples of patresfamilias

  • And what do our patresfamilias, the officials, the wives and daughters, do in such cases?

    The Possessed

    Fyodor Dostoevsky

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

    The Possessed

    Fyodor Dostoevsky

British Dictionary definitions for patresfamilias


noun plural patresfamilias (ˌpɑːtreɪzfəˈmɪlɪˌæs)
  1. the male head of a household
  2. 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