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family

[fam-uh-lee, fam-lee] /ˈfæm ə li, ˈfæm li/
noun, plural families.
1.
  1. a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not:
    the traditional family.
  2. a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for:
    a single-parent family.
2.
the children of one person or one couple collectively:
We want a large family.
3.
the spouse and children of one person:
We're taking the family on vacation next week.
4.
any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins:
to marry into a socially prominent family.
5.
all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor.
6.
Chiefly British. approved lineage, especially noble, titled, famous, or wealthy ancestry:
young men of family.
7.
a group of persons who form a household under one head, including parents, children, and servants.
8.
the staff, or body of assistants, of an official:
the office family.
9.
a group of related things or people:
the family of romantic poets; the halogen family of elements.
10.
a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together:
Many hippie communes of the sixties regarded themselves as families.
11.
a group of products or product models made by the same manufacturer or producer.
12.
Biology. the usual major subdivision of an order or suborder in the classification of plants, animals, fungi, etc., usually consisting of several genera.
13.
Slang. a unit of the Mafia or Cosa Nostra operating in one area under a local leader.
14.
Linguistics. the largest category into which languages related by common origin can be classified with certainty:
Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, and Austronesian are the most widely spoken families of languages.
Compare stock (def 12), subfamily (def 2).
15.
Mathematics.
  1. a given class of solutions of the same basic equation, differing from one another only by the different values assigned to the constants in the equation.
  2. a class of functions or the like defined by an expression containing a parameter.
  3. a set.
adjective
16.
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a family:
a family trait.
17.
belonging to or used by a family:
a family automobile; a family room.
18.
suitable or appropriate for adults and children:
a family amusement park.
19.
not containing obscene language:
a family newspaper.
Idioms
20.
in a / the family way, pregnant.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English familie < Latin familia a household, the slaves of a household, equivalent to famul(us) servant, slave + -ia -y3
Related forms
antifamily, adjective
interfamily, adjective
Usage note
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for families
  • The tradition of baking is one that many families revive at this time of year.
  • families trek to the cemetery to remember dead loved ones.
  • For countless families worldwide, cookies define holiday tradition.
  • families with small children will want a boat with safety railings.
  • The money thus earned pays the rent of hundreds of poor families.
  • In a land of great wealth, families must not live in hopeless poverty.
  • Rather their organization was aristocratic, with leading families which kept each other in order.
  • The melting down the plate of private families, has upon every occasion been found a still more insignificant one.
  • On the other hand, large families need seldom buy fresh meat, provided all left-overs are properly cared for.
  • Her family was extremely well-to-do, and connected by marriage with a spreading circle of other well-to-do families.
British Dictionary definitions for families

family

/ˈfæmɪlɪ; ˈfæmlɪ/
noun (pl) -lies
1.
  1. a primary social group consisting of parents and their offspring, the principal function of which is provision for its members
  2. (as modifier) family quarrels, a family unit
2.
one's wife or husband and one's children
3.
one's children, as distinguished from one's husband or wife
4.
a group of persons related by blood; a group descended from a common ancestor Compare extended family
5.
all the persons living together in one household
6.
any group of related things or beings, esp when scientifically categorized
7.
(biology) any of the taxonomic groups into which an order is divided and which contains one or more genera. Felidae (cat family) and Canidae (dog family) are two families of the order Carnivora
8.
(ecology) a group of organisms of the same species living together in a community
9.
a group of historically related languages assumed to derive from one original language
10.
(mainly US) an independent local group of the Mafia
11.
(maths) a group of curves or surfaces whose equations differ from a given equation only in the values assigned to one or more constants in each curve a family of concentric circles
12.
(physics) the isotopes, collectively, that comprise a radioactive series
13.
(informal) in the family way, pregnant
Word Origin
C15: from Latin familia a household, servants of the house, from famulus servant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for families
family
c.1400, "servants of a household," from L. familia "household," including relatives and servants, from famulus "servant," of unknown origin. The classical L. sense recorded in Eng. from 1545; the main modern sense of "those connected by blood" (whether living together or not) is first attested 1667. Replaced O.E. hiwscipe. Buzzword family values first recorded 1966. Phrase in a family way "pregnant" is from 1796. Family circle is 1809; family man, one devoted to wife and children, is 1856 (earlier it meant "thief," 1788, from family in slang sense of "the fraternity of thieves").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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families in Medicine

family fam·i·ly (fām'ə-lē, fām'lē)
n.

  1. A group of blood relatives, especially parents and their children.

  2. A taxonomic category of related organisms ranking below an order and above a genus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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families in Science
family
  (fām'ə-lē)   
A group of organisms ranking above a genus and below an order. The names of families end in -ae, a plural ending in Latin. In the animal kingdom, family names end in -idae, as in Canidae (dogs and their kin), while those in the plant kingdom usually end in -aceae, as in Rosaceae (roses and their kin). See Table at taxonomy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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families in Culture

family definition


In biology, the classification lower than an order and higher than a genus. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, and house cats belong to the same biological family. Human beings belong to the biological family of hominids. (See Linnean classification.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with families
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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13
15
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