Is there a word that means “a parent who has exactly one child”?

EDIT: I am asking for purposes of creating a computing construct. But if there were an answer that is clearly correct for another domain, I’d be delighted to use it.

  • 3
    Don't think so. – Christi Mar 12 '12 at 16:11
  • a singleton? – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Mar 12 '12 at 16:13
  • 3
    monogenerative? – FumbleFingers Mar 12 '12 at 16:59
  • Some clarification of intended use might be due here, since this answer may be domain dependent; if such a word exists for mammalian or human parentage, it may not be an appropriate term in the domain on generic graph/tree theory. For Example, "Single-Mom" is a useful term in describing human parentage, but it is of little utility in describing mathematical tree structures. – Chris Bye Mar 12 '12 at 20:22
  • In the context of computing, unary node perhaps? – Mr.Wizard Mar 13 '12 at 6:28

Perhaps the closest is uniparous:

  1. (of certain animals) producing a single offspring at each birth
  2. (of a woman) having borne only one child
  3. botany (of a cyme) giving rise to only one branch from each flowering stem

From Parity (biology) also primipara:

a woman who has borne but one child or who is parturient for the first time.

  • Those only apply specifically to the mother. – Mark Beadles Mar 12 '12 at 16:21
  • 2
    @Mark that is correct; I cannot think of anything better, hence "perhaps." – Mr.Wizard Mar 12 '12 at 16:22
  • @Mr.Wizard, also, it's not a very commonly used word. (never heard it myself!), but +1, it's very good. – Bidella Mar 13 '12 at 3:37

I offer one-time:

He’s a one-time father.

The verbs “to be a mother” and “to be a father” mean to deliver a child as a parent. Even if a person is already a parent, they can still “be a parent” again:

I’m going to be a father for the second time.

Oddly, some people seem to use this to refer to labour, not count of children:

She’s a one-time mother of beautiful twin girls.

It also generalises well (and is way more commonly heard) with higher numbers:

Mary was a three-time mother, one-time grandmother, and all-around excellent woman.

  • 1
    The only problem I have with this construction is that it is often used to mean something that was in the past, but is no longer. A "one-time" mother could be a mother who has lost her child, or who for some reason no longer acts as a mother or is estranged. – ghoppe Mar 12 '12 at 20:03
  • 1
    Use of "one-time" in this way is also a rather American idiom, which may or may not matter. – calum_b Mar 12 '12 at 20:14
  • 1
    @ghoppe: Yeah, it’s problematic, but it’s the only “native” English thing I could think of. – Jon Purdy Mar 12 '12 at 20:23
  • News media (at least in the UK) often say, e.g. "father-of-one". – Kate Bunting May 3 '16 at 9:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.