a. A male whose sperm unites with an egg, producing an embryo.
b. A male whose impregnation of a female results in the birth of a child.
c. A man who adopts a child.
d. A man who raises a child.
2. A male parent of an animal.
3. A male ancestor: He has died and now sleeps with his fathers.
a. A man who creates, originates, or founds something: Chaucer is considered the father of English poetry.
b. A man who serves or is thought of as a protector: beloved as the father of the nation.
5. Father Christianity
b. The first person of the Christian Trinity.
a. An elderly or venerable man. Used as a title of respect.
b. One of the leading men, as of a city: the town fathers.
c. or Father A church father.
d. A member of the senate in ancient Rome.
7. Abbr. Fr.
a. A priest or clergyman in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches.
b. Used as a title and form of address with or without the clergyman's name.
v. fa·thered, fa·ther·ing, fa·thers
a. To provide the sperm that unites with an egg to produce (an embryo, fetus, or child).
b. To act or serve as a father to (a child).
2. To create, found, or originate: father a political movement.
3. To attribute the paternity, creation, or origin of: "[Swift's] ideas about the education of the young are fathered on to the Lilliputians" (George Orwell).
To act or serve as a father.
[Middle English fader, from Old English fæder; see pəter- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.