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”), containing the same Proto-Indo-European root, and Old English fædera (“paternal uncle”). Compare Saterland Frisian Unkel (“uncle”), Dutch onkel (“uncle”), German Onkel (“uncle”), Danish onkel (“uncle”). More at eam/eme.
uncle (plural uncles)
- 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.
- (euphemistic) A companion to one's (usually unmarried) mother.
- (figuratively) A source of advice, encouragement, or help.
- (UK, informal) A pawnbroker.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Thackeray to this entry?)
- (Southern US and parts of UK, colloquial) A close male friend of the parents of a family.
- (Southern US, slang, archaic) an older male African-American person
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Plain old uncle as he [Socrates] was, with his great ears, — an immense talker.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- (Asia, slang) An affectionate name for an older man.
- (with regard to gender): aunt
- (with regard to ancestry): niece, nephew
- (African-American): boy
- (India): aunty
- (brother of someone’s father): paternal uncle
- (brother of someone’s mother): maternal uncle
- (uncle gained by marriage): uncle-in-law
- agony uncle
- Bob's your uncle
- cry uncle
- Dutch uncle
- great-uncle, great uncle
- holler uncle
- I'll be a monkey's uncle
- say uncle
- Uncle Sam
- Uncle Scrooge
- Uncle Tom
- 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.
- A cry used to indicate surrender.