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), compare avus (grandfather), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂euh₂-n-tlo (little grandfather), diminutive of *h₂éwh₂os (grandfather, adult male relative other than one’s father). 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.kəl/
  • (US), IPA(key): /ˈʌŋ.kəl/, [ˈʌŋ.kəɫ], [ˈʌŋ.kɫ̩]
  • (UK), IPA(key): /ˈʌŋ.kəl/, IPA(key): [ˈɐŋ.kəɫ], [ˈɐŋ.kɫ̩]
  • 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 Britain 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 male African-American person.
    • 1850, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Representative Men
      Plain old uncle as he [Socrates] was, with his great ears, — an immense talker.


  • (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 (nonstandard)


Derived terms

Related terms

  • avuncular, uncular


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, (Please provide a date or year).


  • 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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