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From Middle English eldfader, from Old English ealdfæder (grandfather, ancestor), equivalent to eld (old) +‎ father. Cognate with Scots eldfader (grandfather, father-in-law), Old Frisian aldfeder (grandfather).


eldfather (plural eldfathers)

  1. (dialectal, now archaic) One's grandfather or forefather.
    • 1975, Frederick Feikema Manfred, The chokecherry tree, page 19:
      Elof sat with his eyes closed, still in the grip of the thought that he had just heard his eldfathers, all the way back to Adam, chanting at the table.
    • 1994, Frederick Feikema Manfred, Duke's Mixture, page 12:
      For some reason "rune" continued to be the most attractive of the two, though, truth to tell, there had been no more than the usual mention of the word either in my general reading or in the Frisian (the language of my eldfathers) []
    • 2011, Octavia E. Butler, Fledgling:
      "[...] He was Daniel's elderfather. And he favored a mating between his sons and me."
  2. (obsolete) One's father-in-law.


  • 1580–1581, Inventory of Christopher Forster, Feb. 15, 1580/1, in Wills and Inventories [...] from the Registry at Durham, part 3 (1906), page 86:
    He owes: To his eldfather, Georg Fenny, 4l. To Georg Dodsworth of Jolby, 50s.
  • 1634–1635, Nicholas Rayne, Will, recording in The Acts of High Commission Court Within the Diocese of Durham (1858):
    On 5 March, 1634–5, "Nicholas Rayne of the Cittie of Durham, gentleman," makes his will, ordering his body to be buried "in the parish church of St. Nicholas, as neare my eldfather Charles Slingsbye, clerke, parson of Rothburye, as possible may be."
  • 1858, Frances M. Wilbraham, For and Against: Or, Queen Margaret's Badge:
    'Truly, if our dear eldfather yet lived, he would say, “The Rubicon is past!”'
  • 1994, Nancy Varian Berberick, The Panther's Hoard →ISBN, page 2:
    Let your eldfather advise you, my girl, said ghost-Hinthan.

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