Word of the Day Archive
Sunday June 15, 2003
paterfamilias \pay-tuhr-fuh-MIL-ee-uhs; pat-uhr-; pah-\ , noun;
plural patresfamilias \pay-treez-; pat-reez-; pah-treez-\:
The male head of a household or the father of a family.
His father served as paterfamilias to the entire García clan, dispensing money and advice to those who needed it, and the family, in turn, revered him.
-- Leslie Stainton, Lorca: A Dream of Life
Just after World War II the paterfamilias, Eric, briefly abandons his wife and children for a doomed romance in Paris.
-- John Domini, review of Drowning, by Lee Grove, New York Times, July 21, 1991
On the face of it, Henry Spencer Ashbee was a typical middle-class Victorian: a successful businessman, a strict paterfamilias.
-- Iain Finlayson, "Victorian erotic values", Times (London), February 21, 2001
Paterfamilias is from Latin pater, "father" + familias, "of the family or household," the archaic genitive form of familia, "family or household."