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[puh-tur-nl-iz-uh m] /pəˈtɜr nlˌɪz əm/
the system, principle, or practice of managing or governing individuals, businesses, nations, etc., in the manner of a father dealing benevolently and often intrusively with his children:
The employees objected to the paternalism of the old president.
Origin of paternalism
1880-85; paternal + -ism
Related forms
paternalist, noun, adjective
paternalistic, adjective
paternalistically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for paternalistic
  • These contain informed, thoughtful commentary that aren't ponderous or paternalistic.
  • However, your reference to the referendum as a tool of direct democracy underscored the paternalistic tone of your report.
  • Brazilians still have a paternalistic mindset that the state or somebody else should for provide them.
  • But it is as much a question of style-a resentment at what is seen as the government's paternalistic belief that it knows best.
  • His prescription was paternalistic but sincere, and he was not alone.
  • State worshipers have problems reconciling their paternalistic world view with reality.
  • Rather paternalistic, but the current system appears to be falling short.
  • The reasoning behind in-kind benefits tends to be paternalistic.
  • Those who chafe under our paternalistic meddling are encouraged to run off and start yer own blog.
  • Mentorship is a little paternalistic, but done well, it's minimally so.
British Dictionary definitions for paternalistic


the attitude or policy of a government or other authority that manages the affairs of a country, company, community, etc, in the manner of a father, esp in usurping individual responsibility and the liberty of choice
Derived Forms
paternalist, noun, adjective
paternalistic, adjective
paternalistically, adverb
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
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Word Origin and History for paternalistic



"feeling of a father for his children," 1851; "government as by a father over his children," 1866, from paternal + -ism. Related: Paternalistic (1890).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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