Try Our Apps


Supposedly vs. Supposably


[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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for paternalism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for paternalism


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for paternalism

"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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for paternalism

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for paternalism

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for paternalism