synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of uncle in English

English Online Dictionary. What means uncle‎? What does uncle mean?



From Middle English uncle, borrowed from Anglo-Norman uncle and Old French oncle, from Vulgar Latin *aunclum, from Latin avunculus (mother’s brother, literally little grandfather), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂euh₂-n-tlo- (little grandfather), a dialectal diminutive of *h₂éwh₂ō (grandfather, adult male relative other than one’s father) (whence also Latin avus (grandfather)). Displaced native Middle English eam, eme (maternal uncle) from Old English ēam (maternal uncle), containing the same Proto-Indo-European root, and Old English fædera (paternal uncle). Compare Saterland Frisian Unkel (uncle), Dutch nonkel (uncle), German Low German Unkel (uncle), German Onkel (uncle), Danish onkel (uncle). More at eam and eame.


  • enPR: ŭngʹkəl, IPA(key): /ˈʌŋ.kl̩/
  • Rhymes: -ʌŋkəl


uncle (plural uncles)

  1. The brother or brother-in-law of one’s parent.
  2. (endearing) The male cousin of one’s parent.
  3. (euphemistic) A companion to one's (usually unmarried) mother.
  4. (figuratively) A source of advice, encouragement, or help.
  5. (Britain, informal, dated) A pawnbroker.
    • December 1843, William Makepeace Thackeray, "Grant in Paris" (review), in Fraser's Magazine
      A chain hangs out of the pocket of his velvet waistcoat , by which we may conclude that he has a watch , though we have known many gents whose watches were at their uncle's (as the fashionable term for the pawnbroker goes)
  6. (especially in the Southern US, parts of UK and South Asia) An affectionate term for a man of an older generation than oneself, especially a friend of one's parents, by means of fictive kin.
  7. (Southern US, slang, archaic) An older African-American male.
    • 1850, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Representative Men
      Plain old uncle as he [Socrates] was, with his great ears, — an immense talker.
  8. (Malaysia, informal) Any middle-aged or elderly man older than the speaker and/or listener.


  • (dialectal, Scotland) eam, eme
  • (archaic or dialectal) nuncle
  • (India, as a respectful term of address) uncleji
  • (familiar or endearing) uncley, unclie, uncly


  • (with regard to gender): aunt
  • (with regard to ancestry): niece, nephew
  • (African-American): boy
  • (India): aunty


  • (sibling of someone's parent) auncle, pibling (both nonstandard)


Derived terms

Related terms



See also: related paternal uncle and maternal uncle for more translations.



  1. A cry used to indicate surrender.

Derived terms

  • cry uncle
  • say uncle


uncle (third-person singular simple present uncles, present participle uncling, simple past and past participle uncled)

  1. (transitive, colloquial) To address somebody by the term uncle.
  2. (intransitive, colloquial) To act like, or as, an uncle.


  • Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “uncle”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  • “uncle”, in Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary.


  • Clune

Old French


uncle m (oblique plural uncles, nominative singular uncles, nominative plural uncle)

  1. (Anglo-Norman) Alternative form of oncle

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This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.