I’m watching Modern Family, and it’s the conversation of Cam and Mitchell

Mitchell: We need somebody to pump some life back into this party.

Cam: I got this. I'll go in and turn on some music, bring out the cupcakes, pump up the bubble machine. Or Is that a roundabout way of saying a certain clown can come to the party?

Mitchell: I was wrong. Every kid wants a clown for a dad.

So Cam wanted to play as a clown for his daughter but Mitchel didn’t want, and then he changed his mind.

Here, “every kid wants a clown for a dad”, what does “for” mean? If possible, could you give me the definition from a dictionary?

Thank you.

  • Just to help in knowing what you are already comfortable with, does "I want steak for dinner" make sense to you?
    – cobaltduck
    Jan 7, 2019 at 14:04
  • @cobaltduck Yes 😀 Jan 7, 2019 at 14:05
  • 1
    In the cited context, for = [in order] to serve the purpose of [being]. Thus I want steak for dinner means I want my dinner to be steak. Jan 7, 2019 at 14:13

2 Answers 2


The word "for" has many meanings in English- "for" and "of" are perhaps two of the most overused and abused words, so it is understandable to have some confusion. Out of the several defintions and sub-definitions given at Merriam-Webster, I think we want 2a here:

2a : as being or constituting
// taken for a fool //eggs for breakfast

There are many things a kid would want his father to be, or qualities he would want his father to have. A father who is a clown or who can act like a clown when appropriate, is a nice kind of father to have.


for there means "serving in the role of".

He's using a coffee mug for a wine glass.

The office provided him a table for a desk.

So, to "have a clown for a dad" means "a clown serving in the role of dad".

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