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family definition


This page has 15 definitions of family in English. Family is a noun and adjective. Examples of how to use family in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See Dictionary:Families for a guide to language families within Wiktionary



A family (sense 1) in Tanzania

From Late Middle English familie, from Latin familia (a household). Displaced native Old English hīred. Doublet of familia.



family (countable and uncountable, plural families)

  1. (countable) A group of people who are closely related to one another (by blood, marriage or adoption); kin; in particular, a set of parents and their children; an immediate family.
    Our family lives in town.
    • 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], chapter XI, in Pride and Prejudice: [], volume III, London: [] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC, page 200:
      To Jane, he could be only a man whose proposals she had refused, and whose merit she had undervalued; but to her own more extensive information, he was the person, to whom the whole family were indebted for the first of benefits, and whom she regarded herself with an interest, if not quite so tender, at least as reasonable and just, as what Jane felt for Bingley.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, “Prologue: Who is Edmund Gray?”, in The Ivory Gate [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], →OCLC:
      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 June 1, “Towards the end of poverty”, in The Economist[1], volume 407, number 8838, page 11:
      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.
    • 2018 May 6, “Rudy Giuliani”, in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, season 5, episode 10, John Oliver (actor), via HBO:
      They’re both New Yorkers coasting on their reputations, they’ve both had three marriages, neither of them can shut up when in front of a camera, and perhaps most importantly, they both want to fuck Ivanka, which-which is weird for Trump because Ivanka is in his family, and it’s weird for Giuliani because she isn’t.
  2. (countable) An extended family: a group of people who are related to one another by blood or marriage.
    • 1915, William T. Groves, A History and Genealogy of the Groves Family in America:
  3. (countable) A nuclear family: a mother and father who are married and cohabiting and their child or children.
    The cultural struggle is for the survival of family values against all manner of atheistic amorality.
    We must preserve the family unit if we want to save civilisation!
  4. (uncountable) Members of one's family collectively.
    I have a lot of family in Australia.
    He has a sister, but no other family.
  5. (countable) A (close-knit) group of people related by blood, friendship, marriage, law, or custom, especially if they live or work together.
    crime family, Mafia family
    This is my fraternity family at the university.
    Our company is one big happy family.
    1. (gay slang) The gay community.
      • 1982 July 15, Gloria Godqueen, “What's in a card”, in Bay Area Reporter, volume 12, number 28, page 7:
        [] This is not your hallmark im Ames, Iowa. And there is “family” working there . . . no radar like gaydar, I always say.
  6. (uncountable) Lineage, especially honorable or noble lineage.
    • 1852 March – 1853 September, Charles Dickens, chapter 2, in Bleak House, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1853, →OCLC:
      Indeed, he married her for love. A whisper still goes about that she had not even 'family'; howbeit, Sir Leicester had so much family that perhaps he had enough and could dispense with any more.
  7. (countable, biology, taxonomy) A category in the classification of organisms, ranking below order and above genus; a taxon at that rank.
    Synonym: familia
    Magnolias belong to the family Magnoliaceae.
    • 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page 4:
      The 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 [].
  8. (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.
    • 2010, Gary Shelly, Jennifer Campbell, Ollie Rivers, Microsoft Expression Web 3: Complete, page 262:
      When creating a font family, first decide whether to use all serif or all sans-serif fonts, then choose two or three fonts of that type []
  9. (set theory, countable) A collection of sets, especially of subsets of a given set.
    Let F {\displaystyle {\mathcal {F}}} be a family of subsets over S {\displaystyle S} .
  10. (countable, music) A group of instruments having the same basic method of tone production.
    the brass family;  the violin family
  11. (countable, linguistics) A group of languages believed to have descended from the same ancestral language.
    the Indo-European language family;  the Afroasiatic language family

Usage notes

  • In some dialects, family is used as a plural (only) noun.



Derived terms

Related terms



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


family (not comparable)

  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.
    This is a family restaurant, stop making out!
  2. (gay slang) Homosexual.
    I knew he was family when I first met him.


See also


Further reading