One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The absolute legal authority of the male head of a Roman family or household over its members; the authority of a Roman paterfamilias. Also in extended use. Usually with the.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in James Dalrymple. From classical Latin patria potestās power of a father from patria, feminine of patrius of or belonging to a father + potestās.
patria potestas/ˌpatrɪə pəʊˈtɛstɑːs/
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