General Writing and Grammar Help/Godfather meaning.


QUESTION: Dear Dr Johnson

What is the Dictionary meaning of the word "Godfather" ?.
Is it related to philosophy, spirituality ?.

Can we termed our Teacher, Coach, Guide, Spiritual Guru, Blood relations, Close relatives etc as Godfather ?.

How we can use this word in English sentences ?. Can you illustrate this with examples ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: A godfather (in English society) is a man who agrees to be the legal guardian of a child in case the parents die before adulthood or the age of majority.

It is partly a matter of religious belief, and partly practical

But it hardly means anything any more in modern society

People agree to be Godfathers but hardly anybody pays any attention to it or takes it seriously any more

I hope that helps.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Dr Johnson

Thank you.

People who adopt children from Orphanages, Can they be referred as Godfather or Godmother for the adopted child because they are not the Biological Parents of the adopted child ?.

Can they be referred as Godfather from the English dictionary meaning
or the definition may differ ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

People who adopt children are called their adoptive parents.

If a man marries a women who already has children, he becomes their stepfather.

We do not use the term godfather for the reasons already given.

It is a term which no longer has very much meaning in Britain.  

It is religious in origin, and the majority of people in Britain are no longer religious.

Hope that helps

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Roy Johnson


I can answer questions on English language, grammar, writing skills, and study skills. I am particularly experienced in the writing skills required for academic essays, term papers, reports, dissertations, and post-graduate theses.


I have forty years experience as a tutor and as the author of books on writing and study skills. For thirty years I was a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association, which specialises in courses for adult students and preparing mature students for university. I was also a tutor for the Open University between 1975 and 2010. During that time I have also written a number of books on writing and study skills. In the last ten years or more I have specialised in creating computer-aided learning materials and online learning courses.

"Making the Grade" (Manchester University Press) 1990 "Studying Fiction" (Manchester University Press) 1991 "Marking Essays" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Revision and Examinations" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Writing Essays" (Clifton Ress) 1996 "Study Skills" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Electronic Writing" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Improve your Writing Skills" (Clifton Press) 2010 "Writing Essays 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "English Language 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "Study Skills 2.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program]

My first degree was in mechanical engineering (HNC). I then switched to literary studies and philosophy. My second degree was a BA in English and American Literature (from Manchester University - UK). I also have an MA in Comparative Literary Studies, and my doctoral thesis (PhD) was in the relationship between literature and politics.

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