• father •
fah-dhêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The male parent, sire; the spouse or mate of the mother. 2. An originator or initiator, as George Washington is said to be the father of the United States.
Notes: The word father has fathered many offspring itself. It has an adjective, fatherly, a noun, fatherhood, meaning "the state of being a father" plus a quality noun, fatherliness meaning "the quality of a father", i.e. "kindly and concerned".
In Play: Fathers are closely associated with the land of our birth. The Latin word for "father" underlies patriot (see Word History), and patriots are proudest of the Fatherland. Father is also associated with the highest spiritual powers, as well as their representatives on Earth, priests and bishops. Clearly, fathers represent a power to be reckoned with and, I reckon, Father's Day is the best time to express our appreciation for their impact on our lives.
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. Sanskrit pitAr became Hindi pitA, Marathi pitaa, Pali pitu, Pashto plaar. 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 Atatürk.
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