Father's Day Words

There is so much more to dads than a bunch of words, but these terms at least cover the tip of the word-berg that describes both the clichés and the changing culture of fatherhood.

For the full article, check out Vocabulary for the Father of All Holidays

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. sportsmanship
    fairness and courtesy in following the rules of a game
    It was the tool by which Palmer’s father instilled in his son lasting lessons about sportsmanship and self-respect.New York Times (Aug 29, 2015)
    While it's a stereotypical idea that all fathers are into sports, many fathers do combine sports and parenting by teaching the quality of sportsmanship. If you have sportsmanship, you respect the rules, play fair, and respect your opponent. In other words, you're a good sport.
  2. recliner
    an armchair whose back can be lowered
    “At home, he spends most of his time in a recliner just watching TV.”New York Times (Jun 11, 2015)
    Here's another stereotype with a load of truth: a good place to find many dads is in the recliner, a type of soft living room chair that extends back, making it more comfortable to watch the ballgame, read the paper, or take a nap. A recliner reclines. This term has been around since the late 1800s.
  3. paternal
    characteristic of a father
    "She lacked a paternal figure, from birth. She never met her father. This affected her entire life."BBC (Feb 12, 2017)
    This word, with French and Latin roots, covers everything father-ish: if there were a whole school of father-related topics, it would probably be called the Academy of Paternal Studies. This word can also be used loosely for anyone acting like a dad, in a positive or negative way. If you patted me on the head and gave me some old-timey advice, that would be a wee bit paternal of you.
  4. patriarchal
    of a social organization with the male as the head
    A contemporary described Pike as “a man of gigantic frame and his long waving white hair and silky beard gave him a decidedly patriarchal appearance.”Washington Post (Oct 22, 2016)
    Patriarchal is related to paternal, and it refers to all sorts of leaders—as long as they're male. A male-dominated society is patriarchal: the opposite, a female-dominated society, is matriarchal. The person in charge of a patriarchy is the patriarch, and you can also refer to a dad as the patriarch of a family, usually as a joke. We all know moms really run the world, right?
  5. nurture
    provide with nourishment
    The most prominent black man in the world is a nurturing father and dutiful, faithful husband, who is intelligent, measured and even-tempered.The Guardian (Jan 17, 2017)
    Anyone who takes good care of their kids knows how to nurture, including penguin dads. If you've ever seen March of the Penguins, you know penguin fathers protect their eggs for months in freezing conditions, far from warmth or recliners.
  6. discipline
    a system of rules of conduct or method of practice
    My father had a stern manner and did not spare the rod when disciplining his children.Long Walk to Freedom
    In families, probably because men are perceived (right or wrong) as being scarier than women, dads are often stuck with the job of "laying down the law" if one of the kids crashed the car, flunked a class, or committed some other atrocity. A classic, if clichéd, threat of moms, when dealing with troublesome kids, is "Wait till your father comes home!" At home or school, kids have a choice: be disciplined or get disciplined.
  7. provider
    someone who supplies the means for subsistence
    I rode, feeling proud of myself as a hunter and a provider for the family.Old Yeller
    Yet another traditional role of fathers is providing. Fathers have been expected to bring home the bacon, often literally, but also figuratively in the sense of making enough money to provide food, clothes, shelter, and other necessities of life such as smartphones and fidget spinners. These days, such stereotypical notions aren’t dead, but they aren’t quite as thriving as before: if a family has two parents, it’s a good bet both are providing.
  8. foster
    providing nurture though not related by blood or legal ties
    Martha’s maternal instincts bubble up as she coaxes Philip to become a foster dad.Los Angeles Times (Feb 26, 2015)
    Foster dads are fathers, too. Fostering positive qualities, such as sportsmanship and discipline, is a classic responsibility of fatherhood.
  9. handy
    skillful with the hands
    In this trailer, that requires some handy work with a knife and crossbow, before your protagonist escapes on a steam engine.The Verge (Jun 11, 2017)
  10. supportive
    furnishing assistance
    My dad was a teacher; he was pliable and supportive and useless.Allegiant
  11. overprotective
    overly protective
    My father became so overprotective he wouldn’t even let me cross the street by myself.The Guardian (Sep 17, 2016)
  12. devoted
    zealous in allegiance or affection
    He was a devoted dad who was always there for his children, whether that meant teaching them to throw a baseball, change a flat tire, or help with their homework.

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