Like father, like son

What does it mean?

When someone says someone is like father, like son they mean that the son takes after the father in terms of behaviour, character or appearance. An adapted version is sometimes used to say that a daughter takes after her mother: like mother, like daughter.

like father like son meaning

Where does it come from?

The phrase like father, like son has been traced back to a collection of English proverbs published in 1616. However, it has existed in English since before this date. The female equivalent “like mother, like daughter” appears in the bible in Ezekial 16:44.

How can I use it?

Like father, like son can be used after saying something about the son which he has in common with his father. For example:

  • Tim was a rebellious child – like father, like son.
  • I hear he prefers blondes. Like father, like son.

Like mother, like daughter is used in the same way except for a mother and daughter:

  • She wants to become a teacher – like mother, like daughter.
  • She’s very headstrong – like mother, like daughter.

We don’t tend to mix these phrases up e.g. like father, like daughter. In this case we can instead use the following:

  • She is her fathers’ daughter.
  • He is his mothers’ son.

Logically, these statements are otherwise redundant. Therefore they are used to emphasise the similarity between these people.

What are some examples?

  • He’s dropped out of medical school. Like father, like son.
  • I’m not surprised she got married so young. Like mother, like daughter.
  • She really likes reading. She’s her father’s daughter in that respect.

What are some similar or related expressions?

  • to be a chip off the old block
  • the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

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Image by Dawnyell Reese from Pixabay
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