How similar or different is "putative" to "surrogate"? The term "surrogate father" is common, "putative father" is fairly so, too. But what may be the difference in connotation?
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The two are hardly alike at all.
a putative father is a man who is said to be the biological father of a child without that fact being completely sure.
While it does not have to have a negative connotation, in many cases it can have them, because using the word questions the actual fatherhood. There are plenty of situations in which that doubt will be perceived as negative, although in some (clinical?) situations, it is not completely neutral.
I would not, however, expect a man to proudly go around and claim to be a child's putative father.
A surrogate father can roughly mean three things, non of them having normally negative connotations:
For these three, and especially the 3rd definition, see here. I have not heard it often used in that sense, but it seems to be in use.
Contrary to putative, there is no doubt or uncertainty involved in the case of a surrogate father.