My father came from Liverpool in the UK and was born there in the early 1950s. He always referred to his Father (when writing him a birthday card) as 'Pater'.

I was reading a psychology book yesterday on learning methods - they refer to PATE as a learning method because Pate meant head.

There seems to be a phrase 'pater familias' in Latin talking about fathers. In latin there seems to be a word 'paternas' which refers to head.

These seem similar - but I can't sort the connections, or see the underlying order.

My question is: Do Pate (head) and Pater (Father) come from the same origin?

  • 1
    You'd think so, after all "paterfamilias" literally means "head of the family" in Latin. But it turns out the origins of "pate" meaning "top of the head" are obscure or unknown, which is weird.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 10:56
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    Well, pate as "head" I can't really find, it seems to specifically refer to the top of the head, and according to etymonline might be from Latin pan. The fact that pater familias means head of the family I think stems from the fact that pater meant boss in the way we now use head. The Latin for head is also used in that way in modern Italian (Capo (di tutti capi)).
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 11:01

1 Answer 1


Essentially: Probably not.

Pater actually comes directly from Latin, and comes from the same root as father.

Pate comes from Latin, but from Patina instead. It's sometimes also referred to as "Patine", and in Italian it refers to the plural of patina. It's also akin to French Patene.

Either way, they both seemingly come from different roots. I wouldn't be surprised if they are related in Latin. But from the information available, it seems that they've always been still separate.

  • 1
    Awesome - quite an ambiguous situation and you captured the essence of it.
    – hawkeye
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 3:03

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