AskDefine | Define father

Dictionary Definition



1 a male parent (also used as a term of address to your father); "his father was born in Atlanta" [syn: male parent, begetter] [ant: mother, mother]
2 the founder of a family; "keep the faith of our forefathers" [syn: forefather, sire]
3 `Father' is a term of address for priests in some churches (especially the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Catholic Church); `Padre' is frequently used in the military [syn: Padre]
4 (Christianity) any of about 70 theologians in the period from the 2nd to the 7th century whose writing established and confirmed official church doctrine; in the Roman Catholic Church some were later declared saints and became Doctor of the Church; the best known Lation Church Fathers are Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory the Great, and Jerome; those who wrote in Greek include Athanasius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and John Chrysostom [syn: Church Father, Father of the Church]
5 a person who holds an important or distinguished position in some organization; "the tennis fathers ruled in her favor"; "the city fathers endorsed the proposal"
6 God when considered as the first person in the Trinity; "hear our prayers, Heavenly Father" [syn: Father-God, Fatherhood]
7 a person who founds or establishes some institution; "George Washington is the father of his country" [syn: founder, beginner, founding father]
8 the head of an organized crime family [syn: don] v : make children; "Abraham begot Isaac"; "Men often father children but don't recognize them" [syn: beget, get, engender, mother, sire, generate, bring forth]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Father



From fader < fæder < < . Cognates include Mycenaean Greek sc=Linb (Greek πατήρ) (patḗr), Latin pater, Spanish padre, French père, Persian (pedar), Sanskrit pitr, Icelandic faðir, Dutch vader and German Vater.


  • a RP
    • /ˈfɑː.ðə/, /"fA:D@/,
  • a AusE
    • /ˈfaː.ðə/, /"fa:D@/,
  • a GenAm
    • /ˈfɑː.ðɚ/, /"fA:D@`/,
  • Rhymes with: -ɑːðə(r)
  • Hyphenation: fa·ther



  1. A male who sires (and often raises) a child.
    My father was a strong influence on me.
  2. A term of address for an elderly man.
    Come, father; you can sit here.
  3. A term of address for a Christian priest.
    Father Brown was the hero of the Chesterton mysteries.
  4. A person who plays the role of a father in some way.
    My brother was a father to me after my parents got divorced.
    The child is father to the man.
  5. The founder of a discipline or science.
    Albert Einstein is the father of modern physics.


  • (parent): See


male parent
term of address for an elderly man
term of address for a Christian priest


  1. To be a father to; to sire.
  2. To give rise to.
  3. To act as a father; to support and nurture.


to sire
to give rise to
  • Spanish: engendrar, ocasionar, producir
to act as a father
  • Spanish: engendrar

Extensive Definition

The father is defined as a maleor a parent of an offspring. The adjective "paternal" refers to father, parallel to "maternal" for mother. According to some of the anthropologist Maurice Godelier, the parental role assumed by human males is a critical difference between human society and that of humans' closest biological relatives - chimpanzees and bonobos - who appear to be unaware of their "father" connection.
The father-child relationship is the defining factor of the fatherhood role. "Fathers who are able to develop into responsible parents are able to engender a number of significant benefits for themselves, their communities, and most importantly, their children." For example, children who experience significant father involvement tend to exhibit higher scores on assessments of cognitive development, enhanced social skills and fewer behavior problems.
The father is often seen as an authority figure. According to Deleuze, the father authority exercises repression over sexual desire. A common observation among scholars is that the authority of the father and of the [political] leader are closely intertwined, that there is a symbolic identification between domestic authority and national political leadership. In this sense, links have been shown between the concepts of "patriarchal", "paternalistic", "cult of personality", "fascist", "totalitarian", "imperial".
In the Roman and aristocratic patriarchal family, "the husband and the father had a measure of political authority and served as intermediary between the household and the polity." In Western culture patriarchy and authority have been synonymous. In the 19th century Europe, the idea was common, among both traditionalist and revolutionaries, that the authority of the domestic father should "be made omnipotent in the family so that it becomes less necessary in the state". Historically, the biological relationship paternity has been determinative of fatherhood. However, proof of paternity has been intrinsically problematic and so social rules often determined who would be regarded as a father, e.g. the husband of the mother.
This method of the determination of fatherhood has persisted since Roman times in the famous sentence: Mater semper certa; pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant (Mother is always certain; the father is whom the marriage shows). The historical approach has been destabilised with the recent emergence of accurate scientific testing, particularly DNA testing. As a result, the law on fatherhood is undergoing rapid changes. In the United States, the Uniform Parentage Act essentially defines a father as a man who conceives a child through sexual intercourse.
The most familiar English terms for father include dad, daddy, papa, pop and pa. Other colloquial expressions include my old man.


  • Natural/Biological father - the most common category: child product of man and woman
  • Birth father - the biological father of a child who, due to adoption or parental separation, does not raise the child
  • Surprise father - where the men did not know that there was a child until possibly years afterwards
  • Posthumous father - father died before children were born (or even conceived in the case of artificial insemination)
  • Teenage father/youthful father - may be associated with premarital sexual intercourse
  • Non-parental father - unmarried father whose name does not appear on child's birth certificate: does not have legal responsibility but continues to have financial responsibility (UK)
  • Sperm donor father - a genetic connection but man does not have legal or financial responsibility if conducted through licensed clinics

Non-biological (social / legal relationship between father and child)

  • Stepfather - wife/partner has child from previous relationship
  • Father-in-law - the father of one's spouse
  • Adoptive father - child is adopted(not of their blood)
  • Foster father - child is raised by a man who is not the biological or adoptive father usually as part of a couple.
  • Cuckolded father - where child is the product of the mother's adulterous relationship
  • Social father - where man takes de facto responsibility for a child (in such a situation the child is known as a "child of the family" in English law)
  • Mothers's partner - assumption that current partner fills father role
  • Mothers's husband - under some jurisdictions (e.g. in Quebec civil law), if the mother is married to another man, the latter will be defined as the father
  • DI Dad - social / legal father of children produced via Donor Insemination where a donor's sperm were used to impregnate the DI Dad's spouse.

Fatherhood defined by contact level with child

  • Weekend/holiday father - where child(ren) only stay(s) with father at weekends, holidays, etc.
  • Absent father - father who cannot or will not spend time with his child(ren)
  • Second father - a non-parent whose contact and support is robust enough that near parental bond occurs (often used for older male siblings who significantly aid in raising a child).
  • Stay at home dad - the male equivalent of a housewife with child
  • Where man in couple originally seeking IVF treatment withdraws consent before fertilisation (UK)
  • Where the apparently male partner in an IVF arrangement turns out to be legally a female (evidenced by birth certificate) at the time of the treatment (UK) (TLR 1st June 2006)
A biological child of a man who, for the special reason above, is not their legal father, has no automatic right to financial support or inheritance. Legal fatherlessness refers to a legal status and not to the issue of whether the father is now dead or alive.

See also

Father can also refer metaphorically to a person who is considered the founder of a body of knowledge or of an institution. In such context the meaning of "father" is similar to that of "founder". See List of people known as the father or mother of something.



father in Arabic: أب
father in Bosnian: Otac
father in Czech: Otec
father in German: Vater
father in Esperanto: Patro
father in Spanish: Padre
father in Persian: پدر
father in French: Père
father in Galician: Pai
father in Korean: 아버지
father in Indonesian: Ayah
father in Italian: Padre (genitore)
father in Latin: Pater
father in Dutch: Vaderschap
father in Japanese: 父親
father in Norwegian: Far
father in Norwegian Nynorsk: Far
father in Portuguese: Pai
father in Sicilian: Patri
father in Simple English: Father
father in Slovak: Otec
father in Serbian: Отац
father in Finnish: Isä
father in Swedish: Far
father in Turkish: Baba (terim)
father in Ukrainian: Батько
father in Yiddish: טאטע
father in Contenese: 阿爸
father in Chinese: 父親

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Ambrose of Milan, Athanasius, Barnabas, Basil, Brother, Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Rome, Cyprian of Carthage, Cyril of Jerusalem, Dom, Gregory of Nyssa, Hermas, His Grace, His Holiness, His Reverence, Holiness, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Jerome, John, John Chrysostom, Justin Martyr, Lactantius Firmianus, Luke, Mark, Monsignor, Mother, Origen, Papias, Paul, Peter, Polycarp, Rabbi, Sister, Tertullian, ante-Nicene Fathers, apostle, disciple, evangelist, saintEstablishment, VIP, abba, abbe, affiliate to, agent, ancestor, ancestors, apprentice, architect, artificer, artist, aunt, auntie, author, baron, bear, beget, begetter, beginner, big gun, big man, big name, bigwig, birth, blood brother, brass, brass hat, breed, breed true, brethren, bring about, bring forth, bring to birth, bring to effect, bring to pass, brother, bub, bubba, bud, buddy, builder, cassock, catalyst, cause, causer, celebrity, chaplain, clergyman, conceive, conceiver, confessor, constructor, copulate, country cousin, cousin, cousin once removed, cousin twice removed, craftsman, create, creator, crossbreed, cure, dad, daddy, daughter, dean, derive from, designer, deviser, dignitary, dignity, discoverer, do, doyen, doyenne, effect, effector, effectuate, elder, eldest, encourager, engender, engenderer, engineer, establish, executor, executrix, father confessor, father in Christ, figure, filiate to, first cousin, first-born, firstling, forebear, forefather, foster brother, foster father, found, founder, frame, framer, frater, gallach, generate, generator, genitor, gestate, get, give birth to, give occasion to, give origin to, give rise to, governor, grandnephew, grandniece, granduncle, great man, great-aunt, great-uncle, grower, half brother, hatch, important person, inaugurate, inaugurator, inbreed, industrialist, initiate, initiator, inspirer, instigator, institute, institutor, interests, introducer, invent, inventor, journeyman, kid brother, lion, lords of creation, magnate, make, make love, maker, man of mark, manufacturer, master, master craftsman, minister, mogul, mother, motor, mover, multiply, nabob, name, nephew, niece, notability, notable, nuncle, nunks, nunky, occasion, old boy, old man, older, oldest, organizer, originate, originator, outbreed, pa, padre, panjandrum, pap, papa, pappy, parent, parish priest, parson, past master, pastor, pater, paterfamilias, patriarch, penitentiary, person of renown, personage, personality, pillar of society, planner, pop, pops, power, power elite, precursor, presbyter, priest, prime mover, primogenitor, primum mobile, procreate, produce, producer, progenerate, progenitor, proliferate, promoter, propagate, raiser, realize, realizer, reproduce in kind, ruling circle, sachem, second cousin, senior, set afloat, set on foot, set up, shaper, shepherd, sire, sis, sissy, sister, sister-german, sistern, sky pilot, smith, soil, somebody, something, son, spawn, spiritual director, spiritual father, stepbrother, stepfather, stepsister, supporter, the great, the old man, the top, top brass, top people, trace to, tycoon, unc, uncle, uncs, uterine brother, very important person, work, worthy, wright
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