Alloparent – Definition & Meaning

Alloparent is a term that is not commonly used in everyday conversation, but it is an important concept in the field of biology and anthropology. The term refers to individuals who provide care for the offspring of others, without being the biological parent. This article will explore the definition and meaning of alloparent, its origins, associations, synonyms, antonyms, and example sentences.


Alloparent is a combination of two Greek words: “allo” meaning “other” and “parent” meaning “one who begets or brings forth.” Therefore, alloparent refers to individuals who care for the offspring of others. The term was first used by anthropologist Sarah Hrdy in her book “The Woman That Never Evolved” in 1981.


The concept of alloparenting has been observed in many animal species, including primates, birds, and insects. In these species, individuals who are not the biological parents of the offspring will often help care for them. This behavior is thought to have evolved as a way to increase the survival of the offspring and the overall fitness of the group.

Meaning in different dictionaries

The term alloparent is not commonly used in everyday language, so it may not be found in all dictionaries. However, some dictionaries do include definitions of the term. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines alloparent as “an individual that provides care for the offspring of others.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a non-parental animal or human that helps to care for the young of others.”


Alloparenting is often associated with cooperative breeding, where multiple individuals help care for the offspring of a single pair. This behavior is observed in many social species, such as meerkats, where all members of the group help care for the young. Alloparenting can also occur in non-social species, where individuals may help care for the offspring of relatives or neighbors.


There are several synonyms for alloparent, including foster parent, surrogate parent, and nanny. These terms all refer to individuals who care for the offspring of others, without being the biological parent.


The antonym of alloparent is biological parent. This refers to individuals who are the biological mother or father of the offspring.

The same root words

The root word “allo” is used in many other terms, such as allopathic medicine, which refers to traditional Western medicine, and allosteric regulation, which refers to the regulation of enzymes by molecules that bind to a site other than the active site.

Example Sentences

  1. The meerkat group had several alloparents who helped care for the young.
  2. The surrogate mother was an alloparent who had no biological relation to the child.
  3. The nanny was an alloparent who provided care for the children while the parents were at work.
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