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[puh-tur-ni-tee] /pəˈtɜr nɪ ti/
the state of being a father; fatherhood.
derivation or acquirement from a father.
origin or authorship.
noting or pertaining to a legal dispute in which an unwed mother accuses a man of being the father of her child:
a paternity suit.
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English paternite < Late Latin paternitās. See paternal, -ity Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for paternity
  • The authors offered an evolutionary explanation for their findings: the phenomenon is a natural paternity test.
  • Your stepdaughter might need to take a paternity test.
  • paternity test conducted here are confidential, safe and trustworthy.
  • The scent-producing cells of that skin would give off pheromones signalling his paternity.
  • It was not until a paternity suit was brought against him that the school actually addressed this vulgarity.
  • Its members produce everything from zips and raincoats to paternity tests.
  • Allow for extended maternity leave and the option of paternity leave.
  • There are organizations that are trying to push for paternity leave, but haven't made much headway.
  • Sykes tells me these comparisons are used routinely in paternity cases.
  • If the car's history is complex and paternity uncertain, consider the much disputed history of radio or the telephone.
British Dictionary definitions for paternity


  1. the fact or state of being a father
  2. (as modifier): a paternity suit was filed against the man
descent or derivation from a father
authorship or origin: the paternity of the theory is disputed
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin paternitās, 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 paternity

mid-15c., "condition of being a father," from Old French paternité (12c.), from Late Latin paternitatem (nominative paternitas) "fatherly care, fatherhood," from Latin paternus "of a father," from pater (see father (n.)). Originally in the ecclesiastical sense; literal sense first recorded 1580s. Meaning "paternal origin" is from 1868.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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paternity in Medicine

paternity pa·ter·ni·ty (pə-tûr'nĭ-tē)

  1. The state of being a father; fatherhood.

  2. Descent on a father's side; paternal descent.

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