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[puh-tur-nl] /pəˈtɜr nl/
characteristic of or befitting a father; fatherly:
a kind and paternal reprimand.
of or relating to a father.
related on the father's side:
one's paternal grandfather.
derived or inherited from a father:
paternal traits.
Origin of paternal
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Late Latin paternālis, equivalent to Latin patern(us) paternal (pater father + -nus adj. suffix) + -ālis -al1
Related forms
paternally, adverb
nonpaternal, adjective
nonpaternally, adverb
unpaternal, adjective
unpaternally, adverb
1. See fatherly. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for paternal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "A true Christian only feels offenses to pardon them," he remarked, in his priestly and paternal character.

    The Black Robe Wilkie Collins
  • paternal grossness was attenuated by the maternal influence.

  • Mr Ware, whom my father had not seen since the death of the good old gentleman, came down now to revisit his paternal seat.

  • Her father sprang to meet her with an unusual display of paternal tenderness.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • Who were her paternal grandparents, and what did they write?

British Dictionary definitions for paternal


relating to or characteristic of a father, esp in showing affection, encouragement, etc; fatherly
(prenominal) related through the father: his paternal grandfather
inherited or derived from the male parent
Derived Forms
paternally, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin paternālis, from Latin pater father
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 paternal

early 15c., from Old French paternal "of a father" (12c.), from Medieval Latin paternalis, from Latin paternus "of a father, fatherly," from pater (see father (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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paternal in Medicine

paternal pa·ter·nal (pə-tûr'nəl)

  1. Relating to or characteristic of a father or fatherhood.

  2. Received or inherited from a father.

  3. Related through one's father.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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