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 Uncle on Wikipedia



From Middle English uncle, from Anglo-Norman uncle, from Old French oncle, from Latin avunculus (mother’s brother”; literally, “little grandfather), diminutive of avus (grandfather), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éwh₂os (grandfather, adult male relative other than one’s father). Displaced native Middle English eam, eme (maternal uncle) (from Old English ēam (maternal uncle), Old English fædera (paternal uncle) from the same Proto-Indo-European root. Compare Saterland Frisian Unkel (uncle), Dutch onkel (uncle), German Onkel (uncle), Danish onkel (uncle). More at eam/eme.



uncle (plural uncles)

  1. A brother or brother-in-law of someone’s parent.
    My uncle is an atheist
    • 1907, Robert W. Chambers, chapter I, The Younger Set:
      And it was while all were passionately intent upon the pleasing and snake-like progress of their uncle that a young girl in furs, ascending the stairs two at a time, peeped perfunctorily into the nursery as she passed the hallway—and halted amazed.
  2. (euphemistic) A companion to one's (usually unmarried) mother.
  3. (figuratively) A source of advice, encouragement, or help.
  4. (UK, informal) A pawnbroker.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Thackeray to this entry?)
  5. (Southern US and parts of UK, colloquial) A close male friend of the parents of a family.
  6. (Southern US, slang, archaic) an older male African-American person
  7. (Asia, slang) An affectionate name for an older man.


  • (dialectal, Scotland): eam, eme



Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.



  1. A cry used to indicate surrender.


  • uncle” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001). [1]
  • "uncle" in Merriam-Webster

Old French[edit]


uncle m (oblique plural uncles, nominative singular uncles, nominative plural uncle)

  1. uncle
    • circa 1170, Wace, Le Roman de Rou:
      D'ambes parz out filz e peres,
      uncles, nevos, cosins e freres
      On both sides there were sons and fathers,
      Uncles, nephews, cousins and brothers
    • circa 1250, Marie de France, Chevrefeuille
      Tristram en Wales se rala, tant que sis uncles le manda
      Tristan returned to Wales, while he waited for his uncle to call on him