If your mother or father has a brother, you call that person "uncle."

  • My uncle and his family are coming for a visit.
  • When Dan was a boy, he used to go fishing with his uncles.
  • His Uncle Bob owns a car dealership.
  • Maria says she has ten uncles altogether.
  • How many uncles do you have?
  • John F. Kennedy was the maternal uncle to Maria Shriver. (She’s a television personality who married and divorced Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

There are a few other ways in which you’ll hear the word "uncle" in American English:

  • Every year in April, American taxpayers have to figure out how much they owe to Uncle Sam. (Uncle Sam = the U.S. government)
  • A large boy on the playground was hitting the other children until they cried "uncle." (To "cry uncle" or "say uncle" is to admit defeat.)
  • The bully made the boy say "uncle."

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This page was first published on November 21, 2013. It was updated on July 10, 2016.