The head of a family; in a large sense, the proprietor of an estate; one who is his own master.
the male head of family or tribe
Father of the family, the oldest living male, who retained many more legal rights over his wife, off-spring, slaves, and dependents than are common in our time, including some rights of life and death. The term also refers, more nebulously, to the master of a familia, or associated group of a family, slaves, and clients. Probably the best rough equivalent for the sake of comprehension to an American would be Don Vito Corleone and his mafia family.
the male head of a Roman household or extended family
a term that means far more than merely "father," it indicates the oldest dominate male of the family, one who holds nearly absolute power over the lives of his family as long as he lived. (p. 135)
(pronounced: Pät-er-fa-mil-- s ) The head of the family. The ranking male in the Roman household, the Paterfamilias had supreme authority over his wife and children. Any daughters-in-law and grandchildren also fell under his authority.