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noun fa·mil·iar \fə-ˈmil-yər\

Definition of familiar

  1. 1 :  a member of the household of a high official

  2. 2 :  one who is often seen and well known; especially :  an intimate associate :  companion

  3. 3 :  a spirit often embodied in an animal and held to attend and serve or guard a person

  4. 4 a :  one who is well acquainted with something b :  one who frequents a place

Examples of familiar in a sentence

  1. <a longtime familiar of the bar, she would most likely have been there on the night in question>

  2. <with old familiars the normally reserved writer can be quite warm and funny>

Origin of familiar

(see 2familiar)

First Known Use: 13th century



adjective fa·mil·iar \fə-ˈmil-yər\

Simple Definition of familiar

  • : frequently seen, heard, or experienced

  • —used to say that something is easy for you to recognize because you have seen, heard, or experienced it many times in the past

  • : possibly known but not clearly remembered

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of familiar

  1. 1 :  closely acquainted :  intimate <a familiar family friend>

  2. 2 obsolete :  affable, sociable

  3. 3 a :  of or relating to a family <remembering past familiar celebrations> (see 1family) b :  frequented by families <a familiar resort>

  4. 4 a :  being free and easy <the familiar association of old friends> b :  marked by informality <a familiar essay> c :  overly free and unrestrained :  presumptuous <grossly familiar behavior> d :  moderately tame <familiar animals>

  5. 5 a :  frequently seen or experienced :  easily recognized <a familiar theme> b :  of everyday occurrence <a familiar routine> c :  possibly known but imperfectly remembered <her face looked familiar>

  6. 6 :  having personal or intimate knowledge —used with with <familiar with the facts of the case>

familiarly adverb
familiarness noun

Examples of familiar in a sentence

  1. Some authors, such as Richard Rodriguez and Ruben Martinez, will be familiar to media mavens outside the region … —Ray Olson, Booklist, 15 Oct. 1996

  2. I think one reason I finally have finished a novel about baseball is that it happens to be one of the few subjects that I know much about. If I were as familiar with forestry, music, … or the city of Rotterdam, I am sure I would have written fiction grounded in that knowledge long ago. —Philip Roth, Reading Myself and Others, 1975

  3. The essay covers familiar ground.

  4. She has become a familiar figure in the world of politics.

  5. She spoke in a familiar way about her past.

  6. an essay written in a familiar style

  7. a familiar way of addressing someone

  8. They felt the waiter was being overly familiar.

Origin of familiar

Middle English familier, from Anglo-French, from Latin familiaris, from familia (see 1family)

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of familiar

common, ordinary, plain, familiar, popular, vulgar mean generally met with and not in any way special, strange, or unusual. common implies usual everyday quality or frequency of occurrence <a common error> <lacked common honesty> and may additionally suggest inferiority or coarseness <common manners>. ordinary stresses conformance in quality or kind with the regular order of things <an ordinary pleasant summer day> <a very ordinary sort of man>. plain is likely to suggest homely simplicity <plain hard-working people>. familiar stresses the fact of being generally known and easily recognized <a familiar melody>. popular applies to what is accepted by or prevalent among people in general sometimes in contrast to upper classes or special groups <a writer of popular romances>. vulgar, otherwise similar to popular, is likely to carry derogatory connotations (as of inferiority or coarseness) <souvenirs designed to appeal to the vulgar taste>.

FAMILIAR Defined for Kids


adjective fa·mil·iar \fə-ˈmil-yər\

Definition of familiar for Students

  1. 1 :  often seen, heard, or experienced <She read us a familiar story.>

  2. 2 :  closely acquainted :  intimate <familiar friends>

  3. 3 :  having a good knowledge of <Parents should be familiar with their children's schools.>

  4. 4 :  informal 1 <He spoke in a familiar way.>

  5. 5 :  too friendly or bold

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up familiar? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by grandiloquent style

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