Meaning of family in English:


Pronunciation /ˈfam(ɪ)li/

See synonyms for family

Translate family into Spanish

nounplural noun families

  • 1treated as singular or plural A group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit.

    ‘the family lived in a large house with a lot of land’
    • ‘the family home’
    • ‘The good thing about having a big family, all living together, is having the support, and not being lonely.’
    • ‘Shared parenting and family friendly work practices for both parents might even just keep more families together.’
    • ‘NEW safety rules which stopped many families from swimming together have been abandoned after protests from parents.’
    • ‘As a result, some families rarely eat dinner together and parents and kids may not be taking the time to stay connected.’
    • ‘But Choi argued how can families have fun together when parents are likely to concentrate on betting.’
    • ‘Money for the project has come from the Parents Association and donations from families together with anonymous benefactors.’
    • ‘As a result, family camping is big during that time as families vacation together.’
    • ‘Groups such as Family Mediation Scotland are attempting to help families stay together, but apart.’
    • ‘Laura came from quite a good family, both parents still together, a rarity in those parts.’
    • ‘In single-parent families or families where both parents are at sea, the children are signed over to a guardian.’
    • ‘If there were no one parent families, average family incomes would be much higher.’
    • ‘Ibsen goes even further in The Wild Duck, as it examines a family that is knit together with lies.’
    • ‘Trendsetting Jamie Oliver is already taking steps to get the whole family online and cooking together.’
    • ‘The recent episode where they all pull together as a family was great.’
    • ‘Ashley went on to say that they are hoping to raise a family together by adopting a baby.’
    • ‘Michelle and dad Tony brought her home for five treasured days over Christmas so the family could be together.’
    • ‘Dad sets the timer on his camera and gets the whole family together for a group photo.’
    • ‘He emigrated to England at a young age, to work on farms with other members of his family to earn a living.’
    • ‘Many families find themselves in a social trap, unable to get back on their feet to enjoy the concept of living as a family.’
    • ‘Eighty three percent of families are on some sort of benefit.’
    household, ménage
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    1. 1.1A group of people related by blood or marriage.
      ‘friends and family can provide support’
      • ‘I could not turn him away, for he was family’
      • ‘You are asked to encourage as many of your friends and family to donate blood.’
      • ‘What matters most is that their close families and friends fully support their marriages.’
      • ‘Sincere sympathy is extended to all the families, relatives and friends of the deceased.’
      • ‘They also wanted to thank the media and friends and family who had supported their struggle to have their son released.’
      • ‘Thank you to all the friends and family for all the support, whether it was food or condolences.’
      • ‘As the cause of death was read out, friends and family supported each other in their loss.’
      • ‘Al Anon offers understanding, help and support to families and friends of problem drinkers in a confidential manner.’
      • ‘They must find support from their families and friends to deal with the stress, anger, and fear they experience.’
      • ‘But we have had a lot of encouragement, we have friends and families coming out to support us, and we know we have the backing at home.’
      • ‘Hampshire police is also providing support to the families of people who have been affected by the disaster.’
      • ‘Burial took place before a very large gathering of family, relatives and friends.’
      • ‘Their home was a very happy place, which family, relatives and friends loved to visit.’
      • ‘He encouraged everyone to put pressure on family, relatives and friends to turn out.’
      • ‘Six months on and the case has disappeared from the news, leaving the couple's families to try to rebuild their lives.’
      • ‘The couple told their families that they planned to marry, although no definite plans had been made.’
      • ‘The couple's families were surprised at the union, but Imran and Jemima married in the summer of 1996.’
      • ‘But the couple's families may never know what turned Richard Mace into a killer before taking his own life.’
      • ‘The happy couple tied the knot in the Holy Family Church and this was a very special occasion for the couple and their families.’
      • ‘Inquiries are still ongoing into the deaths just over a week ago, and the couple's families are still struggling to come to terms with what has happened.’
      • ‘The family of the couple packed the court to see Oakley change his plea at the 11 th hour.’
      relatives, relations, blood relations, family members, kin, next of kin, kinsfolk, kinsmen, kinswomen, kindred, one's flesh and blood, one's own flesh and blood, connections
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    2. 1.2The children of a person or couple being discussed.
      ‘she has the sole responsibility for a large family’
      • ‘Every success in the future on this new venture to the couple and their family.’
      • ‘Several meals out have been lavishly enjoyed by the couple and their family at this stage!’
      • ‘The property is not suitable for large families so the target market when trying to sell it is that of the first-time buyers and couples with young families.’
      • ‘Couples desperate to start families come from across the North of England for fertility treatment in Leeds.’
      • ‘Couples with families might see more benefit in suburbs, or dormitory towns.’
      • ‘In the meantime, my college friends have embarked on their careers, marriages and families at home.’
      children, little ones, youngsters
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    3. 1.3 informal A local organizational unit of the Mafia or other large criminal group.
      • ‘The Kahn family were a sort of mafia family, in charge of organized crime and such.’
      • ‘We're talking about New York, where you'd have Mafia families fighting each other.’
      • ‘Some of the mafia families have employed archaeologists to work directly for them, after making them an offer that they can't refuse.’
      • ‘A county Kildare woman has this week begun working for one of the most notorious criminal families in the country.’
      • ‘The Feo family are that dying breed of huge mafia families with all the fighting and the stresses of seven very different people living in the same house.’
  • 2All the descendants of a common ancestor.

    ‘the house has been owned by the same family for 300 years’
    • ‘Ann was a descendant of a family that could trace its ancestry back to the Norman Conquest.’
    • ‘The house is still in one piece and the descendants of the Jalmry family live here.’
    • ‘Thinking of Plato as semi-divine, alien to us, is not so startling in a world in which great families claimed descent from the gods.’
    • ‘All the victims came from old families, all direct descendants from the founders.’
    • ‘We get some glimpse of this from the Friulan families formed by the descendants of Duke Orso of Ceneda and Duke Peter of Friuli.’
    ancestry, parentage, birth, pedigree, genealogy, background, family tree, descent, lineage, line, line of descent, bloodline, blood, extraction, derivation, race, strain, stock, breed
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1A group of peoples from a common stock.
      ‘There is no need to talk to understand the longing they feel for a new role in the European family of nations.’
      • ‘That is the way towards building a new Scotland, fit and ready to play its full part in the European family of nations.’
      • ‘The sentimentality has less to do with politics, and more with nationhood and the great family of Germany.’
      variety, stock, strain, line, family
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  • 3A group of related things.

    ‘all manuscripts that share this reading constitute a family’
    • ‘The news that GABA receptors constitute a family of proteins was music to drug companies' ears.’
    • ‘They constitute a large family that includes both parasitic and free-living varieties.’
    • ‘Luther dramatically succeeded and thereby inaugurated a new family of Protestant readings.’
    • ‘It is one of the youngest and the newest member of the family of constitutions.’
    • ‘There is a great need for phylogenetic analysis of virtually all the constituent families.’
    • ‘Then the river flow shrank to a trickle, forcing both families of hippos to share the same watering hole.’
    1. 3.1Biology A principal taxonomic category that ranks above genus and below order, usually ending in -idae (in zoology) or -aceae (in botany)
      ‘the cabbage family’
      • ‘If one denies paraphyletic taxa, where do genera and families come from?’
      • ‘The simulated taxa can be seen as analogous to genera or families, the usual focus of diversity studies.’
      • ‘In addition, honeyeaters are known to forage on a range of plant families, genera and species at any one time, and do not rely on a single plant species for food.’
      • ‘In genera of several families, species have been identified that possess no or no fully developed C 4 cycle.’
      • ‘According to Tralau, the order Ginkgoales consists of six families and 19 genera.’
      • ‘Their studies resulted in a profusion of new families, genera, and species.’
      • ‘The families, genera, and species are alphabetically arranged within each group.’
      • ‘Later, Spencer recognized two new orders and three new suborders for the Paleozoic families.’
      • ‘It takes time to learn so many new families, genera, and species.’
      • ‘The family consists of four genera, one of which is the Norwalk-like viruses.’
      • ‘Woodiness in Apiaceae is rare, as woody species are found in only ten of the 400 or so genera in the family.’
      • ‘Most authors agree in assigning a basal position in the family to both genera.’
      • ‘We measured skull length because it is often taken as a measure of size, particularly within genera or families.’
      • ‘The latter two families contain a single genus each that include one and three species, respectively.’
      • ‘This group contains four retroposon families representing three genera of culicines.’
      • ‘Two families and nine genera are known, although some of these latter are may turn out to be junior synonyms.’
      • ‘The common names of these berries are confusing and sometimes overlap with those of berries in other genera or families.’
      • ‘The two species belong to very different taxonomic families.’
      • ‘Like the campanula family, the geranium genus is very large with the pratenses forming only a small part of the whole.’
      • ‘Currently, little is known about relationships among families and genera of cavioid rodents.’
      taxonomic group, group, order, class, subclass, genus, species
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    2. 3.2All the languages ultimately derived from a particular early language, regarded as a group.
      ‘the Austronesian language family’
      • ‘Austronesian languages, like other language families, are very different from Indo-European.’
      • ‘Hmong-Mien is one of the major language families spoken in southern China and Southeast Asia.’
      • ‘Language families and subfamilies are indicated on the branches of the tree.’
      • ‘We know that because we know those language families well, they have long written records.’
      • ‘The basic category historical linguistics deals with is that of the language family.’
    3. 3.3Mathematics A group of curves or surfaces obtained by varying the value of a constant in the equation generating them.
      ‘Infinite families of cyclic Steiner triple systems and Room squares are constructed [in the papers].’
      • ‘Families of curves arise, for example, in the solutions to differential equations with a free parameter.’
      • ‘We have developed galleries of animations that can be used by instructors at various levels to enhance the idea of families of curves and graphs and how the members of the family change when certain parameters are varied.’


  • Designed to be suitable for children as well as adults.

    ‘a family newspaper’
    • ‘At first sight this focus on the home might seem to impose a general standard of what is suitable for family viewing.’
    • ‘It is a family drama designed for an early evening prime-time slot.’
    • ‘Even Rod has now been moved to join in with a startling attack on Ms Mone, which does not bear repeating in a family newspaper.’
    • ‘If it's too vulgar for a family newspaper, I don't mind it being posted to me.’
    • ‘Hopefully the weather will be suitable for the event which is a great family day out at a very popular venue.’
    • ‘There are also plenty of secluded places suitable for picnics making for a great family day out.’
    • ‘For all of my childhood and the early part of my adult life, in Dublin, we had a family Christmas tree.’
    • ‘The Museum Gardens was reclaimed for family use after just such an order was enforced.’
    • ‘This is a delightful family film with layers of humour designed to appeal to all age groups.’
    • ‘The club is also offering family season tickets for up to two adults and two children.’
    • ‘The other thing is the in-laws put a lot of stock by family get-togethers.’
    • ‘The show offers a seasonal alternative to pantos and is ideal for office outings and family get-togethers for all ages.’
    • ‘The family day takes place on Sunday, with a feast of underage football, bouncing castle, glamorous granny competition, bonny baby competition etc.’
    • ‘The night I viewed, the audience was joining in with enthusiasm, knowing that they had been part of a good solid family entertainment.’
    • ‘The family day attracted a dozen families, who enjoyed a relaxed day.’
    • ‘It lurches from heartwarming family drama to broad humor so fast that it leaves the viewer uncomfortable, unsure whether to take the characters and proceedings seriously or not.’
    • ‘I enjoy movies of the 90s from time to time, especially those family dramas that make you cry at some silly make-up after a break-up.’
    • ‘The most interesting thing, if you ask me, is how "the irreverent, oppositional ethic that controlled pirate identity" winds up as the theme of family rides at these parks.’
    • ‘The traditional family show is as usual presented in the village hall.’
    • ‘It walks a very, very fine line between "family sitcom" and "cynical anti-family sitcom."’


    in the family way
    • Pregnant.

      • ‘teens who want to get it on without getting in the family way’
      • ‘What are you going to do if she gets in the family way?’
      • ‘What seems possible is that Summer, having got Bridget pregnant, fell in with the precociously clever Jenny Jones and put her in the family way as well.’
      • ‘It's as simple as this: You don't walk out on a girl who's in the family way.’
      • ‘Working in a brothel it wasn't uncommon for a girl to end up in the family way and Eileen always quickly arranged to fix the problem.’
      • ‘Our mothers think it is a very odd thing that you would want to see your wife while she is in the family way.’
    sell the family silver
    • Part with a valuable resource for immediate advantage.

      ‘the suggestion that privatization is selling off the family silver’
      • ‘But at a time when business values are falling, stakeholders tend not to take kindly to selling the family silver at a knock-down price.’
      • ‘When the sale was announced it was seen as one of the most important strategic decisions in the group's history, likened to selling the family silver.’
      • ‘While it will be running hard to keep up with its younger peers in the telecoms sector, it won't be selling the family silver to do so.’
      • ‘There is no prospect of the trust selling off the family silver.’
      • ‘There you go, selling off the family silver to meet current expenditure.’


Late Middle English (in family (sense 2 of the noun); also denoting the servants of a household or the retinue of a nobleman): from Latin familia ‘household servants, family’, from famulus ‘servant’.