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What Does “Like Father, Like Son” Mean?

What Is The Meaning Of “Like Father, Like Son?”

Idioms are something that we often run into during our daily lives. They can be conversational, unique, and most of all, expressive. One great example is “like father, like son,” which seems simple, however, it causes a lot of confusion for English learners. With this in mind, what is the true meaning of “like father, like son?”

Like father, like son” is an idiom that describes when a child resembles their parents in terms of appearance, characteristics, or behavior.


Upon first glance, it may be confusing to understand how you can use these idioms in everyday speech. Take a look at the following examples:

  • Timothy loved to play the violin. He would always practice and was diligent with his studies. One day his grandfather noticed and mentioned how his Dad also had musical talent as a kid; I guess you could say, “like father, like son.”
  • Jonathan gets mad very easily. When their son was old enough to talk, it seemed as though he also was quick to get mad. Like father, like son, I suppose.
  • He would probably find a more expansive — and more original — phrase to explain his descendants’ writings than “like father, like son and daughter”. – The New York Times.


As you can probably guess, this saying came from experiences when a child resembled their parent. As males were in the center of the household, the saying began as “like father, like son,” however you can also say “like mother, like daughter.” 

As mentioned, these child-parent similarities don’t just have to be physical. In addition to appearance, these similarities may be in character, morals, or even actions. This connection between parent and child is made because biological parents pass on their actual genetics and inherited traits to their children, which influence and shape them. 

Regarding actions and morals, children also tend to pick up these characteristics from their parents. Children understand what their parents believe in as they grow up, and they often adopt the same beliefs. Even actions and behaviors which aren’t necessarily inherited can be passed on from parent to child. 


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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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