Definitions

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

  • adjective Relating to or characteristic of a father or fatherhood; fatherly.
  • adjective Received or inherited from a father.
  • adjective Related through one's father.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to a father; proper to or characteristic of a father; fatherly: as, paternal care or affection; paternal favor or admonition.
  • Derived from the father; hereditary; as, a paternal estate.

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

  • adjective Of or pertaining to a father; fatherly; showing the disposition of a father; guiding or instructing as a father.
  • adjective Received or derived from a father; hereditary.
  • adjective (Polit. Science) the assumption by the governing power of a quasi-fatherly relation to the people, involving strict and intimate supervision of their business and social concerns, upon the theory that they are incapable of managing their own affairs.

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

  • adjective Of or pertaining to one's father, his genes, his relatives, or his side of a family; as, "paternal grandfather" (one's father's father).
  • adjective Fatherly; behaving as or characteristic of a father.
  • adjective Received or inherited from one's father.
  • adjective Acting as a father; as in "paternal filicide" (murder of a son committed by his father).

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

  • adjective belonging to or inherited from one's father
  • adjective relating to or characteristic of or befitting a parent
  • adjective characteristic of a father
  • adjective related on the father's side

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin paternālis, from Latin paternus, from pater, father; see pəter- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French paternal ("of a father") (12c.), a learned borrowing from Vulgar Latin paternālis ("paternal"), from Classical Latin paternus ("of or pertaining to a father, paternal"), from pater ("father").

Examples

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