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I read this phrase:

My son cracks me up. He's had me laughing all day long. Must have taken after his daddy.

I want to know what after means in this construction, and if there is some formal construction equivalent to this one.

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

To "take after" your father or mother means you inherited a trait from them, either genetically or by the way they raised you.

As an extension, you can "take after" anyone who might have an influence on you. A student might take after his instructor. You can take after your great-grandfather. Et cetera.

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Just a small tweak, this construct need not necessarily be applied to a father or mother. It's pretty frequently applied to other relatives, and even non-relatives on occasion (though, obviously not in the genetic sense). – Dusty Apr 12 '11 at 18:50
@Dusty - Good point. Edited to reflect that. – Kevin Apr 12 '11 at 19:29

To take after means "have a similar appearance to or qualities in common with a parent or an ancestor."

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"After" in this usage is incomplete and meaningless by itself. The verb phrase is "to take after" and it means "to resemble" in myriad ways: sense of humor, taxicab ears (like the ones I have), ability to scheme successfully, musicality, and as many others as there are human traits real or imagined.

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Probably related notionally to the idea of "taking after" someone also meaning to chase or follow them. – The Raven Apr 12 '11 at 19:11
Sure, "take after" = "to follow"; nice thought. Whereas to "take OUT after" = "to follow carrying a shotgun" – Pete Wilson Apr 12 '11 at 19:16

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