9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[uhng-kuh l] /ˈʌŋ kəl/
a brother of one's father or mother.
an aunt's husband.
a familiar title or term of address for any elderly man.
Slang. a pawnbroker.
(initial capital letter) Informal. Uncle Sam.
a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter U.
say / cry uncle, Informal. to concede defeat:
They ganged up on him in the schoolyard and made him say uncle.
Origin of uncle
1250-1300; Middle English < Anglo-French uncle, Old French oncle < Latin avunculus mother's brother, equivalent to av(us) mother's father + -unculus suffix extracted from diminutives of n-stems (see homunculus)
Related forms
uncleless, adjective
uncleship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for uncle
  • uncle found a skull face carved on brownish rock, hand size, and the back of the rock is smooth.
  • Her father, grandfather and uncle took turns driving her there and back until she got her license.
  • Although an uncle left the chair to him, another family member who had it on loan seemed reluctant to surrender possession.
  • Argon's uncle responds really well to this development.
  • Imagine your uncle reaching deep into his book of puns to name scientific studies, and you'll get the idea.
  • We could go for an imaginary drive in one of our uncle's trucks, or pretend to float away in one of the rowboats.
  • Most of us don't have trust funds and won't get a cushy job in their uncle's business.
  • Her boyfriend and her uncle, she said, had made her take a drug the other night.
  • Some messenger there might have met you from my uncle.
  • My uncle had become still more unbending from domestic sufferings.
British Dictionary definitions for uncle


a brother of one's father or mother
the husband of one's aunt
a term of address sometimes used by children for a male friend of their parents
(slang) a pawnbroker
adjective avuncular
Word Origin
C13: from Old French oncle, from Latin avunculus; related to Latin avus grandfather
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 uncle

late 13c., from Old French oncle, from Latin avunculus "mother's brother," literally "little grandfather," diminutive of avus "grandfather," from PIE root *awo- "grandfather, adult male relative other than one's father" (cf. Armenian hav "grandfather," Lithuanian avynas "maternal uncle," Old Church Slavonic uji "uncle," Welsh ewythr "uncle").

Replaced Old English eam (usually maternal; paternal uncle was fædera), which represents the Germanic form of the root (cf. Dutch oom, Old High German oheim "maternal uncle," German Ohm "uncle").

Also from French are German, Danish, Swedish onkel. First record of Dutch uncle (and his blunt, stern, benevolent advice) is from 1838; Welsh uncle (1747) was the first cousin of one's parent. To say uncle as a sign of submission in a fight is North American, attested from 1909, of uncertain signification.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for uncle



Of a large and unspecified ordinal number: making the same speech for the umptyumpth time/ the umpty-umpth revision (fr WWI)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with uncle


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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