familiar

noun
fa·​mil·​iar | \ fə-ˈmil-yər How to pronounce familiar (audio) \

Definition of familiar

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a member of the household of a high official
2 : one who is often seen and well known especially : an intimate associate : companion
3 : a spirit often embodied in an animal and held to attend and serve or guard a person the loathsome toad, the witches' familiar— Harvey Graham
4a : one who is well acquainted with something familiars of violence— John Updike
b : one who frequents a place familiars of the embasy— Rebecca West

familiar

adjective
fa·​mil·​iar | \ fə-ˈmil-yər How to pronounce familiar (audio) \

Definition of familiar (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : closely acquainted : intimate a familiar family friend
2 obsolete : affable, sociable
3a : of or relating to a family remembering past familiar celebrations
b : frequented by families a familiar resort
4a : 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
5a : 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 : having personal or intimate knowledge used with with familiar with the facts of the case

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from familiar

Adjective

familiarly adverb
familiarness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for familiar

Synonyms: Noun

denizen, frequenter, habitué (also habitue), haunter, rat, regular

Synonyms: Adjective

bosom, buddy-buddy, chummy, close, especial, friendly, inseparable, intimate, inward, near, thick, tight

Antonyms: Adjective

distant

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for familiar

Adjective

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

Examples of familiar in a Sentence

Noun

a longtime familiar of the bar, she would most likely have been there on the night in question with old familiars the normally reserved writer can be quite warm and funny

Adjective

Some authors, such as Richard Rodriguez and Ruben Martinez, will be familiar to media mavens outside the region … — Ray Olson, Booklist, 15 Oct. 1996 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 The essay covers familiar ground. She has become a familiar figure in the world of politics. She spoke in a familiar way about her past. an essay written in a familiar style a familiar way of addressing someone They felt the waiter was being overly familiar.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

According to demon lore, Paimon is a master of the arts and familiars (spirits that often manifest as animals) who will bless his followers with wealth. Yohana Desta, HWD, "Let’s Talk about Hereditary’s Insane Ending," 8 June 2018 Toi GB took the microphone, started to sing in a familiar growled whisper, and the room erupted in cheers. Jenn Harris, latimes.com, "Viva Thai Elvis: One of dozens could be performing at your local restaurant," 25 May 2018 Such moments sum up the charm of Mardi Gras, when fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, alight among familiars and strangers alike. The Masked Observer, AL.com, "The Masked Observer discovers a silver tongue and sequins are the keys to a night of delight," 26 Jan. 2018 In the books, Ambrose has snake familiars who do not get along with Salem, and also has a cute British accent. Alexis Nedd, Cosmopolitan, "This Is What You Can Expect From Sabrina's Riverdale Spinoff, Based on the Comic Book," 8 Jan. 2018 And while homemade is certainly the best, there are also some very good brands out there, from the old familiars to the newly invented. Kathleen Purvis, charlotteobserver, "Here’s your best party-food secret weapon (and our favorite 5 brands)," 19 Dec. 2017 Contrary to appearances, however, the three spooky women (Brianna Rodriguez, Brittany Sims and Julie Ann Valdez) explain that they’re not the witches at all but their familiars — their animal companions, or rather the spirits that take those forms. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, "Review: ‘Escape Velocity’ zips through themes of feminism," 23 Feb. 2017 The new study suggests that brown rats were slower to spread around the globe than our other familiars, the black rat and the house mouse. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "How the Brown Rat Conquered New York City (and Every Other One, Too)," 27 Oct. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

By now, most of the free world is familiar with the trauma of Theron’s childhood in South Africa. Kimberly Cutter, Marie Claire, "Charlize Theron Is in Control—and Funny as Hell," 1 May 2019 The State Department is expected to announce the end of waivers for countries to import Iranian oil on Monday, part of the Trump administration’s effort to drive Iran’s exports to zero, people familiar with the decision said. Jessica Donati, WSJ, "U.S. to End Iran Oil Waivers to Drive Tehran’s Exports to Zero," 22 Apr. 2019 Many of the features in the Killer AX 1650 networking adapter aren’t necessarily new to people familiar with Killer Wi-Fi or networking chips. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Killer's AX 1650 network card taps Wi-Fi 6 for wireless gaming that doesn't suck," 15 Apr. 2019 If the setup feels familiar, Selling Sunset is produced by Adam DiVello, the same person who brought us The Hills and Laguna Beach. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "Will There Be a 'Selling Sunset' Season 2? The Cast Has Some Thoughts," 15 Apr. 2019 Everyone is familiar with the standard holiday home decorations, from twinkling lights to menorahs and Christmas trees. Megan Barber, Curbed, "How to decorate your RV for the holidays," 6 Dec. 2018 Among those rounded up have been Iraqi women and foreigners from Syria, Turkey, Germany, France, and the U.S., according to sources in Baghdad familiar with detainees. Sophia Jones, Marie Claire, "The Truth About The Wives of ISIS," 4 Oct. 2018 His personality could flip on a dime, but that kind of behavior was familiar to me. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Who Is Jennifer Esposito, 'NCIS' Actor and Bradley Cooper's Ex-Wife?," 26 Feb. 2019 Exclusive images of the collab were just released yesterday, but fans noticed something that looked a little familiar: this fresh-as-hell navy striped two-piece. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Zendaya Announced a Zodiac-Inspired Clothing Collection With Tommy Hilfiger and I Need EVERYTHING," 20 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'familiar.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of familiar

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for familiar

Adjective and Noun

Middle English familier, from Anglo-French, from Latin familiaris, from familia — see family entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about familiar

Statistics for familiar

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for familiar

The first known use of familiar was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for familiar

familiar

adjective

English Language Learners 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

familiar

adjective
fa·​mil·​iar | \ fə-ˈmil-yər How to pronounce familiar (audio) \

Kids Definition of familiar

1 : often seen, heard, or experienced She read us a familiar story.
2 : closely acquainted : intimate familiar friends
3 : having a good knowledge of Parents should be familiar with their children's schools.
4 : informal sense 1 He spoke in a familiar way.
5 : too friendly or bold

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on familiar

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to make a payment or contribution

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!