Definition of uncle in English:



  • 1The brother of one's father or mother or the husband of one's aunt.

    ‘he visited his uncle’
    as name ‘tell me something interesting, Uncle’
    as title ‘Uncle Alfred’
    • ‘We're talking about our own family members - aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers grandparents, parents and children.’
    • ‘She had the body of someone who worked for it, and as Lyn had seen all of her fat aunts, uncles, cousins, mother, father, and grandparents she knew what Noel was worried about.’
    • ‘There are fathers, brothers and uncles and husbands and wives working for the company.’
    • ‘She is survived by her father, mother, brother, grand-parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends.’
    • ‘She is survived by her husband Patrick, son Sean, daughter Katie, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, relatives and friends.’
    • ‘He is deeply regretted by his mother Catherine, brothers, sisters; aunts, uncles; in-laws, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.’
    • ‘Along with the children of the dead, there were the mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, husbands and wives; except that in one case, there was neither husband nor wife.’
    • ‘He will also be missed by numerous brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.’
    • ‘These relatives suffered the stress of living with the fact that they would not provide a bit of care, comfort and attention to their fathers or mothers, sisters or brothers, aunts or uncles.’
    • ‘I have a loving mother, father, grandparents, uncles, aunts, family in general.’
    • ‘He is mourned by parents Aidan and Chris, proprietors, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and a host of friends.’
    • ‘They've invited me to their house parties where I met their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and sisters.’
    • ‘I wish more grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters would set their stories down on tape for family, friends and future generations.’
    • ‘We are either fathers or mothers, aunts or uncles, grandfathers or grandmothers, the last category tending to have an exalted position in the hierarchy of affection for young children.’
    • ‘These are our grandmothers and aunts and uncles and fathers and sisters and cousins and close friends.’
    • ‘Can't her cousins and aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers and mother and father and friends have some time with her?’
    • ‘The people who died were mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers and friends.’
    • ‘Numerous people wept for their friends, husbands, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings and in some distressing cases, young sons and daughters.’
    • ‘Deepest sympathy is extended to his sons Micheal and Richard, mother Mary, brothers, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and a wide circle of friends.’
    • ‘She is mourned and sadly missed by her loving husband, children, mother, uncles, aunts, cousins, and all her relatives and friends.’
    relative, relation, blood relation, blood relative, family member, one's own flesh and blood, next of kin
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal An unrelated older male friend, especially of a child.
      • ‘My dad's best man was his closest friend, Rocky, who was basically an uncle to me.’
      • ‘He is more like your friendly neighbourhood uncle with a passion for sports.’
      • ‘We became uncles to the little boy and warm friends with the parents.’
      • ‘The only real explanation I can provide is that he looks like your gentle, friendly uncle.’
    2. 1.2archaic, informal A pawnbroker.
      • ‘The English term of ‘my uncle’ as a euphemism for the pawnbroker dates back to the middle of the seventeenth century.’


  • cry (or say or yell) uncle

    • informal Surrender or admit defeat.

      ‘he fought for a while, but he pretty quickly cried uncle’
      • ‘We want to hose someone with verbiage until they yell uncle.’
      • ‘The tech lobby isn't likely to cry uncle any faster.’
      • ‘We gave our rep a quick call to complain, but it became apparent the only way to go home was to cry uncle on the radio.’
      • ‘Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all the bad guys are either dead or cry uncle.’
      • ‘I will hound that poor excuse of a human being until he yells uncle or stops posting vapid, unproven horse nonsense that all of you seem to believe.’
      • ‘Plenty of people thought we should have just let the Confederate states go their own way in 1861 - but even they knew that if we beat General Lee on the field and occupied enough of the South, that the CSA would cry uncle and quit.’
      • ‘Not all of them, I regret to report, are crying uncle.’
      • ‘You might think the banks would be crying uncle by now.’
      • ‘The stubborn one-time peanut vendor may have to cry uncle again.’
      • ‘I'm pretty strong for my size so I was going to hold it like that until he said uncle.’
  • Uncle Tom Cobley (or Cobleigh) and all

    • informal Used to denote a long list of people.

      • ‘There are few people who deliberately set themselves up for the public mauling he received at the hands of politicians, business leaders, broadcasters, journalists, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.’
      • ‘With newspapers relying in part on whispers from security services, as well as other sources, Proetta was accused of involvement in prostitution, drugs, assault, knowing criminals and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.’
      • ‘Widdicombe fair is a little rural fair held in the broad-spoken heart of Dartmoor, Devon, during the course of which seven old men - ‘Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all’ - ride around on a grey mare.’
      • ‘The toppled minister is invariably an indispensable friend and support, be it Blunkett, Mandelson, Derry Irvine, Alastair Campbell or Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.’


Middle English: from Old French oncle, from late Latin aunculus, alteration of Latin avunculus ‘maternal uncle’ (see avuncular).