General English

  • noun a person who protects or supports someone or something
  • noun a person who goes regularly to a place, e.g. a shop, hotel, restaurant or theatre


  • noun a regular customer, e.g. of a hotel, restaurant, etc.

Information & Library Science

  • noun a person or group that encourages and supports an activity, sometimes with money


  • noun a person who gives an organisation or charity financial support


  • noun a customer, especially a regular one, of a pub or restaurant, or a visitor to a theatre

Origin & History of “patron”

Patron is one of a large group of English words descended from pater, the Latin member of the Indo-European family of ‘father’-words (which also includes English father). among the others are paternal (17th c.), paternity (15th c.), paternoster (OE) (literally ‘our father’), patrician (15th c.), and patrimony (14th c.). Patron itself comes from Latin patrōnus, a derivative of pater which was used for ‘one who protects the interests of another, as a father does’. By post-classical times it had acquired its current meanings, including that of a ‘guardian saint’. Pattern is ultimately the same word as patron.

The Greek branch of the ‘father’-family is represented by patḗr, from which English gets patriarch (12th c.), patriot (16th c.) (based ultimately on the notion of a ‘fatherland’), and patronymic (17th c.).