• Family


    • IPA: /ˈfæməli/, /ˈfæmli/
    • Hyphenation: fa + mi + ly


    From Early Modern English familie (not in Middle English), from Latin familia ("the servants in a household, domestics collectively"), from famulus ("servant")/famula ("female servant"), from Old Latin famul, of obscure origin. Perhaps derived from or cognate to Oscan famel ("servant").

    Full definition of family



    (countable and uncountable; plural familys)
    1. (countable) A father, mother and their sons and daughters; also called nuclear family.
      Our family lives in town.
      • 1893, Walter Besant, The Ivory Gate Chapter Prologue, Such a scandal as the prosecution of a brother for forgery—with a verdict of guilty—is a most truly horrible, deplorable, fatal thing. It takes the respectability out of a family perhaps at a critical moment, when the family is just assuming the robes of respectability:...it is a black spot which all the soaps ever advertised could never wash off.
      • 2013-06-01, Towards the end of poverty, America’s poverty line is $63 a day for a family of four. In the richer parts of the emerging world $4 a day is the poverty barrier. But poverty’s scourge is fiercest below $1.25 (): people below that level live lives that are poor, nasty, brutish and short.
    2. (countable) A group of people related by blood, marriage, law, or custom.
      crime family, Mafia family
    3. (countable) A kin, tribe; also called extended family.
    4. (countable, biology, taxonomy) A rank in the classification of organisms, below order and above genus; a taxon at that rank.
      Magnolias belong to the family Magnoliaceae.
      • Schuster Hepaticae V|4The closest affinities of the Jubulaceae are with the Lejeuneaceae. The two families share in common: a elaters usually 1-spiral, trumpet-shaped and fixed to the capsule valves, distally....
    5. (countable) A group of people who live together, or one that is similar to one that is related by blood, marriage, law, or custom, or members of one's intimate social group.
      This is my fraternity family at the university.
      Our company is one big happy family.
      They treated me like family.
    6. (countable) Any group or aggregation of things classed together as kindred or related from possessing in common characteristics which distinguish them from other things of the same order.
      Doliracetam is a drug from the racetam family.
    7. (countable, music) A group of instruments having the same basic method of tone production.
      the brass family;  the violin family
    8. (countable, linguistics) A group of languages believed to have descended from the same ancestral language.
      the Indo-European language family;  the Afro-Asiatic language family
    9. Used attributively.
      The dog was kept as a family pet.
      For Apocynaceae, this type of flower is a family characteristic.
      • 2013-06-14, Jonathan Freedland, Obama's once hip brand is now tainted, Now we are liberal with our innermost secrets, spraying them into the public ether with a generosity our forebears could not have imagined. Where we once sent love letters in a sealed envelope, or stuck photographs of our children in a family album, now such private material is despatched to servers and clouds operated by people we don't know and will never meet.

    Usage notes

    In some dialects, family is used as a plurale tantum.


    Derived terms



    1. Suitable for children and adults.It's not good for a date, it's a family restaurant.Some animated movies are not just for kids, they are family movies.
    2. Conservative, traditional.The cultural struggle is for the survival of family values against all manner of atheistic amorality.
    3. (slang) Homosexual.I knew he was family when I first met him.
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