Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of or having to do with an uncle.
  • adjective Regarded as characteristic of an uncle, especially in benevolence or tolerance.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to an uncle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Of or pertaining to an uncle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective In the manner of an uncle, pertaining to an uncle.
  • adjective by extension Kind, genial, benevolent, or tolerant.

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

  • adjective resembling a uncle in kindness or indulgence
  • adjective being or relating to an uncle

Etymologies

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

[From Latin avunculus, maternal uncle; see awo- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin avunculus ("maternal uncle").

Examples

  • The former justice minister is known as an avuncular and soft-spoken man who quit the cabinet in the early days of the uprising and immediately joined the rebels in Benghazi.

    Rebels and Gaddafi forces battle in eastern and western Libya

  • The former justice minister is known as an avuncular and soft-spoken man who quit the cabinet in the early days of the uprising and immediately joined the rebels in Benghazi.

    Rebels and Gaddafi forces battle in eastern and western Libya

  • The former justice minister is known as an avuncular and soft-spoken man who quit the cabinet in the early days of the uprising and immediately joined the rebels in Benghazi.

    Rebels and Gaddafi forces battle in eastern and western Libya

  • But while Norton's lavish tribute may well have had a certain avuncular motive, it's evident that the fervor and clamor of young Kipling's balladry stirred the old Brahmin to his bones.

    Who Was Kipling?

  • The first one I can only describe as avuncular and earnest.

    Jewschool

  • McMahon, best known as the avuncular second banana to Johnny Carson on the "Tonight Show," died at age 86, also in dire financial straits after profligate spending.

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  • I think he brought a kind of avuncular approach to "World News Tonight," but I never thought he had a really serious gravitas that he brought to "World News Tonight," and maybe that was just because of who he is, maybe that was just his personality.

    CNN Transcript Dec 13, 2009

  • I think he brought a kind of avuncular approach to "World News Tonight," but I never thought he had a really serious gravitas that he brought to "World News Tonight," and maybe that was just because of who he is, maybe that was just his personality.

    CNN Transcript Dec 13, 2009

  • The TV listings call Larry King "avuncular," which describes his affability but sets him somewhat apart from his guests.

    Jerry Weissman: The Art & Science of Oprah Winfrey: Part III

  • My foolproof/proof fool method as a child: memorize the definition of "avuncular," since it was the last question on the Wechsler.

    "Is it possible to prepare for Intelligence tests?"

Comments

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  • the thing i love about avuncular is its origin in Indo-European pre-history and the probable cultural milieu: the importance of the maternal uncle/grandfather in bringing up a boy in a paternal society.

    March 26, 2007

  • Is there any word which covers the same traits (kindness, experience, generosity, maybe a bit of exuberance) in a female? Matronly is too distanced. Language hacks gladly accepted.

    October 15, 2007

  • Sarra, see materteral. :-)

    October 15, 2007

  • might do the trick!

    October 15, 2007

  • Hercule Poirot offered to be her avuncular

    January 14, 2009

  • Neither vuncular nor its opposite. That to which the concept of vuncularity does not apply.

    November 29, 2011

  • That's interesting, yarb. There is an example over on vuncular, but I can't tell whether it's intentional or a typo (or an intentional typo):

    “Avia, that simple pair, and descendant down on veloutypads by a vuncular process to Nurus and Noverca, those notorious nepotists, circumpictified in their sobrine census, patriss all of them by the glos on their germane faces and their socerine eyes like transparents of vitricus, patruuts to a man, the archimade levirs of his ekonome world.”

    --Finnegans Wake

    April 30, 2012

  • Well, if it's from Finnegans Wake, you hardly need to ask...

    May 4, 2012

  • There has been an earlier comment, but I'd love some feedback: can a woman be avuncular?

    July 3, 2012

  • I don't see why not. As best as I can tell, in order to be avuncular, all you have to do is behave like a stereotypical uncle. Anyone can do that, whether they're male or female.

    July 4, 2012