• synonyms


[pey-treez-fuh-mil-ee-uh s, pah-, pa-]
  1. a plural of paterfamilias.
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[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.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for patresfamilias

elder, ruler, founder, grandfather, originator, head, author, generator, sire, father, chief, master, architect, senior, ancestor, creator, maker, inventor, gaffer, paterfamilias

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
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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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper