Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

uncle

[uhng-kuh l]
See more synonyms for uncle on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a brother of one's father or mother.
  2. an aunt's husband.
  3. a familiar title or term of address for any elderly man.
  4. Slang. a pawnbroker.
  5. (initial capital letter) Informal. Uncle Sam.
  6. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter U.
Show More
Idioms
  1. say/cry uncle, Informal. to concede defeat: They ganged up on him in the schoolyard and made him say uncle.
Show More

Origin of uncle

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French uncle, Old French oncle < Latin avunculus mother's brother, equivalent to av(us) mother's father + -unculus suffix extracted from diminutives of n-stems (see homunculus)
Related formsun·cle·less, adjectiveun·cle·ship, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for uncle

father, brother, son, guy, fellow, husband, he, sibling, mother, cousin, folk, uncle, niece, aunt, sir, beau, gentleman, grandfather, papa, swain

Examples from the Web for uncle

Contemporary Examples of uncle

Historical Examples of uncle

  • In the simpler phrasing of Uncle Peter Bines, he will "cut loose."

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But Uncle Peter had already put in some hard winters, and was not wanting in fortitude.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Uncle Peter stood in a flood of light at the door of his room.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He was busy almost half an hour, while Uncle Peter smoked in silence.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Why, of course not, Uncle Peter; only I had to look around some at first,—for a year or so.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson


British Dictionary definitions for uncle

uncle

noun
  1. a brother of one's father or mother
  2. the husband of one's aunt
  3. a term of address sometimes used by children for a male friend of their parents
  4. slang a pawnbroker
Show More
Related formsRelated adjective: avuncular

Word Origin for uncle

C13: from Old French oncle, from Latin avunculus; related to Latin avus grandfather
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 uncle

n.

late 13c., from Old French oncle, from Latin avunculus "mother's brother," literally "little grandfather," diminutive of avus "grandfather," from PIE root *awo- "grandfather, adult male relative other than one's father" (cf. Armenian hav "grandfather," Lithuanian avynas "maternal uncle," Old Church Slavonic uji "uncle," Welsh ewythr "uncle").

Replaced Old English eam (usually maternal; paternal uncle was fædera), which represents the Germanic form of the root (cf. Dutch oom, Old High German oheim "maternal uncle," German Ohm "uncle").

Also from French are German, Danish, Swedish onkel. First record of Dutch uncle (and his blunt, stern, benevolent advice) is from 1838; Welsh uncle (1747) was the first cousin of one's parent. To say uncle as a sign of submission in a fight is North American, attested from 1909, of uncertain signification.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with uncle

uncle

see cry uncle; Dutch uncle.

Show More
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.