• fatherly •
Pronunciation: fah-dhêr-li • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Having the affection of a father; befitting a father or fatherhood, which is to say, kind and protective.
Notes: Today's topical Good Word is the adjective from father, found in the name of today's holiday, Father's Day. The suffix -ly converts adjectives into adverbs: quickly, happily, brightly. When added to nouns, it creates adjectives like friendly, sisterly, and today's word. If the noun refers to time, adding -ly allows it to be used as an adverb or adjective: weekly (weekly reports are written weekly), hourly, yearly. The noun is fatherliness and the adverb is the same as the adjective: fatherly.
In Play: Like motherly and motherhood, today's Good Word emphasizes all that is good in fatherhood: "I think Paris Hilton could have used a bit more fatherly guidance." (Hmmm. Maybe motherly, too.) "Fatherly heroes are hard to find in the literature and filmography of the 21st century." We hope that all the fathers reading today's Good Word are enjoying well-deserved recognition for their efforts over the year. alphaDictionary salutes you all.
Word History: Today's word probably comes from one of the first syllables uttered by babies, pa- plus the Proto-Indo-European kinship suffix -ter, also found in mother, sister, and brother. These two components alone account for Greek pater and Latin pater, while Sanskrit pitAr shows signs of some development. Latin pater trickled down to Spanish and Italian as padre, to Portuguese as pai, and to French as père. In the Germanic languages the same PIE form became English father, German Vater, plus Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish far. Russian otec, Serbian otac, and Albanian atë were borrowed from Turkic ata, seen in the name of the father of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Ataturk. The suffix is a reduction of Old English lic, today's like. We can see the word-to-suffix change beginning again today in compounds like dream-like, tree-like, and snake-like. In Russian and other Slavic languages the same basic root emerged as lico "face", one measure of human likeness.