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What is the meaning but more importantly the connotations for the expression "the father of the house"? Not only in the literal sense, that is, but more for someone with authority, even if there is no house or no actual father involved.

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I'm not familiar with that expression. Is it related to "man of the house" or are you asking about the sense given in Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_of_the_House. Can you provide some context to clarify your question? – jimreed Jul 14 '11 at 15:13
@jimreed: edited, thanks – 719016 Jul 14 '11 at 15:53

See also the pater familias, the head of a Roman family. He was responsible for the status and well-being of the family (including its slaves) and had authority over its members. The contemporary connotation is that the father is in sole charge of family affairs, as in

"I am the only daddy you got - I am the damn paterfamilias!"

--George Clooney as Ulysses Everett McGill, from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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In the UK "father of the House" is the longest currently serving member of parliament. The 'House' being the House of Commons.

'Man of the House' is more common in BE to refer to the head of the household - although it's sexist language wouldn't now be allowed in official use.

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This phrase is currently undergoing some cultural shifts but, traditionally, the father of the house is fairly similar to man of the house. The connotation is a mix of moral authority, financial authority, protection and the responsibility to support the rest of the family financially and emotionally.

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