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 embassy— 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

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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 John Obi Mikel, a Nigerian familiar for his years with Chelsea, left another Turkish team, Trabzonspor, this week. Victor Mather, New York Times, 19 Mar. 2020 During the Salem witch hunts, common folklore said that witches transformed into their familiars (black cats). Lisa Stardust, Teen Vogue, 22 Oct. 2019 For Fringe familiars, there are a few changes for 2019, Bentley says. Kathy Berdan, Twin Cities, 29 July 2019 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 19 Dec. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The fundraiser is also familiar ground for Baker and Polito. BostonGlobe.com, 16 July 2021 The person familiar with the meeting and contract, as well as Duverger, said that those at the meeting expected growing protests and public pressure would eventually force the Haitian president to resign. Washington Post, 15 July 2021 Louis Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth leading the way at the British Open felt pretty familiar, too. Steve Douglas, Star Tribune, 15 July 2021 Yet in a familiar pattern, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has unanswered questions. Rick Klein, Averi Harper, ABC News, 15 July 2021 When the court rules in the familiar 6-3 conservative-liberal pattern, Breyer, as the senior member of the left, has the power to assign the opinion for that wing. Joan Biskupic, CNN, 15 July 2021 Lorenzo Gaines, a Detroit father and community fixture on the city's east side, was all too familiar with gun violence. Janelle James, Detroit Free Press, 15 July 2021 The implicit criticism by Gloria of his Republican predecessor, Kevin Faulconer, is pretty familiar these days. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 July 2021 Here, the tensions that had virtually scored and striated his best earlier films now rage beneath the surface no less intensely, and add far-reaching ironies to a familiar tale. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 14 July 2021

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

Time Traveler for familiar

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for familiar

Cite this Entry

“Familiar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/familiar. Accessed 27 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

More from Merriam-Webster on familiar

Nglish: Translation of familiar for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of familiar for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about familiar

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!