father


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not your father's

Very modern or updated; no longer what an older generation would expect or be used to. With every building now featuring wireless Internet and touch-screen monitors integrated into the desks in each classroom, this is certainly not your father's high school anymore.
See also: not

be gathered to (one's) fathers

euphemism To die. It's such a shame that Tom has been gathered to his fathers. When is his funeral?
See also: father, gather

a bit of how's your father

A playful euphemism for sexual activity. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Jeremy snuck under the bleachers with his girlfriend to have a bit of how's your father but ended up getting caught by the school's principal.
See also: bit, father, of

success has many fathers, failure is an orphan

People are quick to associate themselves with successful ventures and distance themselves from failures. A: "All the people who were so excited about this project in the beginning now act like they've never even heard of it." B: "Well, success has many fathers, failure is an orphan."
See also: failure, many, success

twinkle in (one's) father's eye

A phrase used to describe the time before one's birth. I never knew my grandparents; they died when I was just a twinkle in my father's eye.
See also: eye, twinkle

the child is father of the man

The personality traits that one displays as an adult form in childhood. He's always been a quiet, analytical person—the child is father of the man, after all.
See also: child, father, man, of

experience is the father of wisdom

Most wisdom is gained by experiencing different things (compared to acquiring knowledge through schooling or other means). A few years ago, I couldn't even get behind the wheel without having panic attacks, but, with practice, I'm much calmer and can drive with no problems. Experience is the father of wisdom after all.
See also: experience, father, of, wisdom

when (one) was a twinkle in (one's) father's eye

Before one was born. I never knew my grandparents—they died when I was a twinkle in my father's eye.
See also: eye, twinkle

founding father

Someone who was instrumental in the beginning or creation of something. This phrase is capitalized when used to refer to the members of the US Constitutional Convention. As the founding fathers of this club, we really want to see it thrive after we graduate. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were among the nation's Founding Fathers.
See also: father, found

a spot of how's your father

A playful euphemism for sexual intercourse or activity. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Jeremy snuck under the bleachers with his girlfriend to have a spot of how's your father, but ended up getting caught by the headmaster.
See also: father, of, spot

how's your father

euphemism Sexual intercourse or activity. Usually preceded by "a bit of" or "a spot of." Jeremy snuck under the bleachers with his girlfriend to have a spot of how's your father, but ended up getting caught by the headmaster. It's well known that having kids is going to drastically reduce the how's your father in your relationship, but it's something many couples still struggle with.
See also: father

like father, like son

Said when a son takes after his father in mannerisms, interests, behavior, etc. Tommy's headstrong and impatient—like father, like son. A: "My only interest is in making money." B: "Like father, like son, I see."
See also: like, son

old enough to be (one's) father

Being so much older that he would have been old enough to be the parent of the other person in question. Used especially when describing a man who is or might be in a romantic or sexual relationship with a younger person. How could you find him attractive—he's old enough to be your father! Everyone raised their eyebrows when they met Mark's new husband, as he's old enough to be Mark's father; however, they do seem very happy together.
See also: enough, father, old

founding father (of something)

A man who was instrumental in the creation or pioneering of something. Many consider Alexander Fleming to be the founding father of modern antibiotics. The day is a celebration of the founding fathers of the small country.
See also: father, found

the mother and father of all (something)

The largest, most extreme, or ultimate example of a particular kind of thing. The word that follows "of" is usually plural. Wow, that is the mother and father of all sandwiches. It's a foot high!
See also: all, and, father, mother, of

child is father of the man

 and child is father to the man
Prov. People's personalities form when they are children; A person will have the same qualities as an adult that he or she had as a child. (From William Wordsworth's poem, "My Heart Leaps Up.") In Bill's case, the child was father of the man; he never lost his childhood delight in observing nature.
See also: child, father, man, of

Experience is the father of wisdom,

 and Experience is the mother of wisdom.
Prov. The more that happens to you, the more you will learn. I never understood why supervisors got so frustrated with me until I became a supervisor and got frustrated with my subordinates. Experience was definitely the mother of wisdom, in my case.
See also: experience, father, of, wisdom

father something on someone

Fig. to regard someone as the author or originator of something. Do not attempt to father that stupid idea on me! We fathered the whole plan on the president. And we learned later she had nothing to do with it.
See also: father, on

It is a wise child that knows its own father.

Prov. You can never have certain proof that a certain man is your father. (Implies that the child in question might be illegitimate.) It is a wise child that knows its own father, but Emily is so much like her dad that there's very little uncertainty.
See also: child, father, know, own, that, wise

like father, like son

Prov. Fathers and sons resemble each other, and sons tend to do what their fathers did before them. Jill: George's father smoked all the time, and now George is smoking excessively, too. Jane: Like father, like son, eh? I think my son will grow up tall, just like his father. Like father, like son.
See also: like, son

old enough to be someone's mother

 and old enough to be someone's father
as old as someone's parents. (Usually a way of saying that a person is too old.) You can't go out with Bill. He's old enough to be your father! He married a woman who is old enough to be his mother.
See also: enough, mother, old

The wish is father to the thought.

Prov. People sometimes come to believe something that they wish were true. Jane hoped that her boss would resign, and the wish was father to the thought. Soon she had told everyone in the office that she was sure her boss was leaving.
See also: father, thought, wish

like father, like son

In the same manner from generation to generation, as in Kevin decided to run for mayor-like father, like son. This ancient proverb has been stated in English in slightly varying versions since the 1300s, sometimes appearing with a counterpart, like mother, like daughter. Thomas Draxe had it in Bibliotheca (1616): "Like father, like son; like mother, like daughter." Also see chip off the old block; follow in someone's footsteps.
See also: like, son

how's your father

sexual intercourse. British informal
A pre-World War I music-hall catchphrase, how's your father was earlier used to mean ‘nonsense’ before acquiring its present sexual sense. It is now used also to refer to a man's penis.
See also: father

like father, like son

a son's character or behaviour can be expected to resemble that of his father.
The Latin version of this expression is qualis pater, talis filius . The female equivalent, like mother, like daughter , is based on Ezekiel 16:44: ‘Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is the daughter’.
See also: like, son

founding father

someone who establishes an institution.
Founding Father is used in particular of an American statesman at the time of the Revolution, especially a member of the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787 .
See also: father, found

like —, like —

as — is, so is —.
Two familiar sayings which appear in this form are like father, like son , recorded in this form from the early 17th century onwards, and like mother, like daughter .
1982 Anita Desai A Village by the Sea Did he teach you to tell me that—that rogue, your father? Like father, like daughter. A family full of liars, no-goods.
See also: father, like, son

old enough to be someone's father (or mother)

of a much greater age than someone. informal
1997 Nelson DeMille Plum Island He was probably old enough to be their father, but girls paid attention to money, pure and simple.
See also: enough, father, old

the wish is father to the thought

we believe a thing because we wish it to be true.
This expression is used by Shakespeare in 2 Henry IV: ‘Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought’. However, observations on this kind of self-delusion are found in much earlier writings, including those of Julius Caesar and Demosthenes.
1980 Alice Thomas Ellis The Birds of the Air Somewhere in that area of the human mind where the wish is father to the thought activity was taking place. Hunter, Barbara decided, had wangled this invitation in order to be with her.
See also: father, thought, wish

like ˌfather/ˌmother, like ˈson/ˈdaughter

(saying) a child is similar to its father/mother in a particular way: Young Jim is turning out to be as hard-working as his dad — like father, like son.
See also: daughter, father, like, son

the ˌfounding ˈfather(s) of something

(formal) the people who found or start a country, an organization, a branch of science, etc: Charles Babbage, the founding father of computer science
See also: father, found, of, something

the wish is father to the ˈthought

(saying) we believe a thing because we want it to be trueThis phrase was used in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV.
See also: father, thought, wish
References in classic literature ?
Nicholson, at last, 'that I am an ungenerous father.
Whether his father spoke, or whether he remained long in the room or at once departed, are points lost to history.
His father punished Seryozha by not letting him go to see Nadinka, Lidia Ivanovna's niece; but this punishment turned out happily for Seryozha.
Do you wish to see your father on his knees, his white hairs prostrate before you?
No order can be unjust from the lips of your father, my daughter.
Finish by telling me how your father left you, Sissy.
I came home from the school that afternoon, and found poor father just come home too, from the booth.
Again crowding together they all made their way by the narrow passages back into the little church, and there, though abbreviating it slightly, Father Sergius completed vespers.
My dear fellow,' said the Father of the Marshalsea, laying his hand upon his shoulder, and mildly rallying him--mildly, because of his weakness, poor dear soul; 'you said that before, and it does not express much, Frederick, even if it means much.
But tell your father one thing: he must not come here any more.
Ilus feared the ever-living gods and would not give him any, but my father let him have some, for he was very fond of him.
As far as worldly wealth goes," continued his father, "you will no doubt stand far superior to your brothers in a few years.
Mary knew quite well that her father had something particular to say: his eyebrows made their pathetic angle, and there was a tender gravity in his voice: these things had been signs to her when she was Letty's age.
DEAR ANNE,--Have only just heard that my father is turning the corner.
Presently the room-door opened, and the young man entered; to whom his father gently waved his hand, and smiled.