from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The brother of one's mother or father.
  • n. The husband of one's aunt.
  • n. Used as a form of address for an older man, especially by children.
  • n. A kindly counselor.
  • n. Slang A pawnbroker.
  • n. Uncle Sam.
  • idiom cry Informal To indicate a willingness to give up a fight or surrender: tickled my brother until he cried uncle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A brother or brother-in-law of someone’s parent.
  • n. A companion to your (usually unmarried) mother.
  • n. A source of advice, encouragement, or help.
  • n. A pawnbroker.
  • n. A close male friend of the parents of a family.
  • n. an older male African-American person
  • n. An affectionate name for an older man.
  • interj. A cry used to indicate surrender.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The brother of one's father or mother; also applied to an aunt's husband; -- the correlative of aunt in sex, and of nephew and niece in relationship.
  • n. A pawnbroker.
  • n. An eldery man; -- used chiefly as a kindly or familiar appellation, esp. (Southern U. S.) for a worthy old negro.”

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The brother of one's father or mother; also, the husband of one's aunt: correlative to aunt.
  • n. A familiar title of address to an old man: used especially in the southern United States as a kindly title for a worthy old negro: as, “Uncle Tom's Cabin”; correlative to aunt or aunty in similar use.
  • n. A pawnbroker: so called in humorous allusion to the financial favors often expected and sometimes received from rich uncles.
  • n. A termination of some diminutive words of Latin origin, as homuncle (also homuncule), oratiuncle, etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the brother of your father or mother; the husband of your aunt
  • n. a source of help and advice and encouragement


Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin avunculus, maternal uncle; see awo- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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 *awo- (“grandfather, adult male relative other than one's father”). Displaced native Middle English eam, eme ("maternal uncle") (from Old English ēam ("maternal uncle"), compare Old English fædera ("paternal uncle") from the same Proto-Indo-European root. More at eme. (Wiktionary)



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