General Writing and Grammar Help/Godfather meaning.


QUESTION: Dear Johnathan

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: Hi Prashant,

The word Godfather has different meanings, depending on the context.

One very specific example of the word Godfather comes from the Italian Mafia in the United States and it was essentially the title for the head of a mafia family. In Italy these people were called "Don", and that term was still used in America as well, but the term "Godfather" was also applied to powerful members of the mafia family.

The original connotation would be a male person who is the sponsor of a child at birth or baptism (the female counterpart being the Godmother). These people often agree to act as a form of backup parent or guardian in the event that the child's parents die prematurely. Often young couples will pick another couple that they know and elect them to be the godparents of their child. It's purely a ceremonial or honorary role in most cases. Even if the child's parents do die early, unless their Last Will and Testament is amended to state that their child should be left in the custody of the Godparents it usually doesn't happen. In many cases the courts will ship the children off to another family member, or sometimes they will become wards of the state.

The third and final meaning of this word is as a term that is applied to the progenitor of an idea, philosophy, or school of thought. For example, in the discipline that I primarily study, Educational Psychology, we recognize John Dewey to be the godfather of Experiential Learning and B. F. Skinner to be the godfather of Behaviorism. In many cases this term is applied to people posthumously, usually much later, after they have devoted their lives to furthering a cause or belief. I can happen that this is term is applied to living people who are actively making a difference, but this is rare.

I hope that helps to explain this word. Please let me know if you have other questions.

Kind Regards,

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

QUESTION: Dear Johnathan

Thank you.

1. If somebody replies with the answer "My Father is my Godfather" to a question asked "Who is your Godfather" ?.

Is the answer correct according to the English dictionary meaning of "Godfather" ?. i.e.

Can it be applied to as you mentioned "The third and final meaning of this word is as a term that is applied to the progenitor of an idea, philosophy, or school of thought."

2. If i ask you the question "Who is your Godfather", what would be your answer and with reasons ?.

i.e. Will you say "John Dewey" and "B.F.Skinner" are my Godfathers ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Hi Prashant,

Let me answer your questions in order.

1. "My father is my Godfather" doesn't make any sense. Your father, biologically, cannot also be your godfather (as in the person who cares for you after your parents die). If they mean that their father is the head of a crime family, then they would say "my father is THE Godfather".

2. My answer to the question "who is your godfather", would be Steven Marchetti. That is the man that my parents chose to look after me in the event that they both perished. A godfather is only personal (ie; "MY godfather") in this context.

I would say that John Dewey is THE Godfather OF Experiential Learning. And B. F. Skinner is THE Godfather of Behaviorism.

Any godfather that is a not a personal godfather appointed by your parents is referred to with "the" as opposed to my. The mafia is an organization, not a person, so it can't have a personal godfather. An idea is also not a person, so it can't ahve a personal godfather either.

In a crime syndicate they might reference them as the Godfather of the Giovani Family, because many mafias are family-based. However, it's also typical that within the context of the situation all parties understand that they are talking about the mafia so there's no need to specify it.

I hope that makes sense.  


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

QUESTION: Dear Johnathan

Thank you. All Doubts regarding "Godfather" definition are cleared from your end.

Final Question

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


I suppose that in a very vague definition that term could be applied, but it's not common practice. In America and also in England (as far as I know) children who were in an orphanage refer to those parents as their "adoptive parents", not godparents.  

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Johnathan Clayborn


I can answer a broad range of questions about both academic and creative writing. I can answer questions about APA format, research and references, essay structure and more. I am particularly helpful in the areas of character development, storyline development, etc. and I can provide authors with an array of tools to help them organize their work.


I minored in English for my Bachelor's degree. I have also written several books and I run a small publishing company (before you ask, we're not accepting submissions at this time). I have written both fiction and non-fiction books and I have been published in newspapers and written articles for major internet websites.

Alpha Chi, Psi Chi, Kappa Delta Pi, APA

MS, Educational Psychology, BS Psychology (English minor)

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