Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The father of one's mother or father.
  • n. A forefather; an ancestor.
  • transitive v. To exempt (one involved in an activity or business) from new regulations: The new ordinance restricts the size of billboards, but it grandfathers those erected before 1997.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A father of someone’s parent.
  • n. A male forefather.
  • v. To retain existing laws or rules only for those people or organisations that were previously affected by them, and apply new laws or rules to the unaffected people or organisations.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A father's or mother's father; an ancestor immediately after the father or mother in lineal ascent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A father's or mother's father; an ancestor in the next degree above the father or mother in lineal ascent: correlative to grandson, granddaughter, and grandchild.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the father of your father or mother

Etymologies

V., from grandfather clause.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
grand + father (Wiktionary)
From grandfather clause (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • A correspondent of the Drawer is involved in domestic perplexities. He writes:

    ‘I got acquainted with a young widow, who lived with her step-daughter in the same house. I married the widow; my father fell, shortly after it, in love with the step-daughter of my wife, and married her. My wife became the mother-in-law and also the daughter-in-law of my own father; my wife’s step-daughter is my step-mother, and I am the step-father of my mother-in-law. My stepmother, who is the step-daughter of my wife, has a boy: he is naturally my step-brother, because he is the son of my father and of my step-mother; but because he is the son of my wife’s step-daughter so is my wife the grandmother of the little boy, and I am the grandfather of my step-brother. My wife has also a boy: my step-mother is consequently the step-sister of my boy, and is also his grandmother, because he is the child of her step-son; and my father is the brother-in-law of my son, because he has got his step-sister for a wife. I am the brother of my own son, who is the son of my step-mother; I am the brother-in-law of my mother, my wife is the aunt of her own son, my son is the grandson of my father, and I am my own grandfather.’

    – Harper’s Magazine, April 1865 (via futilitycloset.com)

    May 5, 2010