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From Middle English faderly, from Old English fæderlīċ (fatherly, paternal), from Proto-Germanic *fadurlīkaz (fatherly, paternal), equivalent to father +‎ -ly. Cognate with West Frisian faderlik (fatherly), Dutch vaderlijk (fatherly), German väterlich (fatherly), Danish faderlig (fatherly), Swedish faderlig (fatherly), Icelandic föðurlegur (fatherly) . Doublet of fatherlike.



fatherly (comparative more fatherly, superlative most fatherly)

  1. Characteristic of what is considered the ideal behaviour pertaining to fatherhood.
    fatherly advice
  2. Characteristic of fathers, paternal.

Derived terms[edit]



fatherly (comparative more fatherly, superlative most fatherly)

  1. In a way pertaining to, befitting, or of a father.
    • 1589, The Return of Pasquill:
      Exhorting him fatherlie to giue ouer that course.
    • a. 1723, Increase Mather, “A Vindication of New-England”, in The Andros Tracts: [], New York, N.Y.: Burt Franklin, published 1869, page 27 (page 9 of chapter):
      []; tho’ God hath for a while Fatherly Chaſtiſed them by thoſe Rods which he hath afterwards conſumed.
    • 1848, James Russell Lowell, “The Changeling”, in Poems, second series, Cambridge: George Nichols; Boston: B. B. Mussey and Company, page 162:
      This child is not mine as the first was, / I cannot sing it to rest, / I cannot lift it up fatherly / And bliss it upon my breast;
    • 1850, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point”, in Poems, volume II, London: Chapman & Hall, stanza VII, page 131:
      Indeed we live beneath the sky, . . / That great smooth Hand of God, stretched out / On all His children fatherly, / To bless them from the fear and doubt, / Which would be, if, from this low place, / All opened straight up to His face / Into the grand eternity.
    • 1970, Ronny Pearlman, The Monday Man, page 39:
      He looked fatherly at me.
    • 1988, Phyllis Ann Karr, “Two Bits of Embroidery”, in Parke Godwin, editor, Invitation to Camelot: An Arthurian Anthology of Short Stories, New York, N.Y.: Ace Books, →ISBN, page 41:
      When she fell forward a little, as if she were half fainting with the pleasure, he held her, fatherly, in his arms until she recovered.