Today’s post is all about fathers! From founding fathers to sugar daddies, we’re going to explore 9 dad idioms in English, complete with example sentences, an infographic, and a father idioms quiz at the end! What are you waiting for? Scroll down to become a father idioms aficionado!




Related: 15 Famous Literary Characters Who Will Make You Realize How Spectacular Your Mother Is + 9 Mother Idioms




In general, a founding father is a person who starts or develops a new movement, idea, etc.


However, when this father idiom is capitalized, it can also refer more specifically to any member of the group of people who wrote the United States Constitution in 1787. Some of the most famous Founding Fathers are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.


I sometimes wonder if the founding fathers of the internet ever imagined how their invention would change the world.

What do you think the Founding Fathers would have to say about today’s hot political issues?







This is specifically a legal idiom, but it is so common that it’s widely understood in normal, everyday English. A grandfather clause is a clause in a contract or agreement that protects certain rights granted in the past even when conditions change in the future.


If someone is benefitting from a grandfather clause, you can say that they have been grandfathered in.


Although you might be smiling if you’re benefitting from a grandfather clause, this is a term with a sinister history. The original grandfather clauses allowed whites an exemption from restrictive voting laws in the US, laws that were designed to prevent blacks from voting.


Gwen: How in the world does your mom have an unlimited data plan for her cell phone? No one gets that anymore!
Tommy: They offered it when she first signed up, and she’s grandfathered in.


Related: Learn 12 English money idioms + money idioms quiz





Of all the father idioms in this post, this is my favorite! If something happened before you were a twinkle in your father’s eye, it happened before you were born or even conceived. (In other words, it happened before your father even had amorous thoughts towards your mother. 😁)


This dad idiom has a humorous or playful tone.


Don’t lecture me on how to run a classroom! I’ve been teaching since before you were a twinkle in your father’s eye!






Father Idiom 4: NOT YOUR FATHER’S…


If a car, for example, is not your father’s car, it is very modern or updated, to the point that it is no longer like what older generations would expect or be used to.




Older generations might be used to cars with luxuries such as cupholders and CD players. But if someone tells you that a car is not your father’s car, it has revolutionary new technology or has features that older generations never expected to see in a car, such as a refrigerator in the car or the ability to float on water.


Paul: You expect me to pay $10,000 for a laptop?! What are you smoking?!
Joanna: This isn’t your father’s laptop. The battery holds a 3-month charge, and its built-in 3-D printer can create anything from a new pair of shoes to a new set of dishes.


Related: Check out Alberto Alonso’s tips for learning English! These aren’t your father’s English tips 😉



Father Idiom 5: THE GRANDDADDY OF (ALL)…


When we say that something or someone is the granddaddy of (all) something, we mean that they are the first or greatest example of something.


Politics has been so depressing lately. More than half the electorate didn’t even bother to vote in the last election, and our new governor is the granddaddy of all conmen.





Father Idiom 6: FATHER FIGURE


A father figure is an older man that someone loves and respects because he advises and helps them like a father.


Jerry took Ben’s death really hard. Ben had been a father figure to him, especially after his own dad got locked up.





When someone is very similar to their father or mother in the way that they look or behave, we can say they are a chip off the old block.


Reginald is a chip off the old block, isn’t he? He’s just like his old man!


What do you mean by HIS OLD MAN?

someone’s old man = (slang) someone’s father




Related: A similar English expression is ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’. Visit this post to learn 5 apple idioms and sayings in English!



Father Idiom 8: SUGAR DADDY


A sugar daddy is a rich older man who gives presents and money to a much younger woman, usually in return for sex.


Cindy: How is Tania affording such a lavish lifestyle? She was living with three roommates last year, and now she’s got a penthouse on the waterfront and goes around wearing Hermès scarves and diamond tennis bracelets.
Tom: If you ask me, I think she’s found herself a sugar daddy.




Related: Learn 5 advanced English words for flirts



Father Idiom 9: DEADBEAT DAD


As you walk into my local courthouse, you will see a board with photos of deadbeat dads in my county, or fathers who are dodging their child support payments. A deadbeat dad is a father who does not live with his children and does not pay their mother any money to take care of them.


Leslie: Are you going home for Father’s Day?
Ned: No way. My father is the granddaddy of deadbeat dads. We haven’t heard two words from him since I was 12.


Related: Learn 18 advanced English words to describe bad people …inspired by Game of Thrones villains!



Dad Idioms Infographic



Related: Check out this infographic of 5 synonyms for ‘Cuddle’



Dad Idioms Quiz


How well do you know these father idioms? There’s only one way to find out!


Related: Test your English more with this nautical idioms quiz!



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