Meaning of paternalistic


When someone in authority acts like they’re your parent, making decisions for you rather than allowing you to be responsible for yourself, you can describe them as paternalistic.

Sometimes people object to laws requiring them to wear seatbelts or motorcycle helmets, arguing that they’re paternalistic — instead of letting you make the choice for yourself, you’re forced to protect yourself from harm. Most citizens are fine with this kind of government regulation but would object to more extreme versions of paternalistic laws. The word comes from a root meaning “father,” and it originally described a type of governing “as by a father over his children.”

Definitions of paternalistic
  1. adjective

    benevolent but sometimes intrusive



    characteristic of a father

Word Family

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