sub·​fam·​i·​ly | \ ˈsəb-ˌfam-lē How to pronounce subfamily (audio) , -ˌfa-mə- \

Definition of subfamily

1 : a category in biological classification ranking below a family and above a genus
2 : a subgroup of languages within a language family

Examples of subfamily in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For example, the animal’s existence on the California coast overlapped with another genus (Apataelurus) from the same subfamily that lived in Utah’s Uinta Basin. Raegan Scharfetter, Scientific American, 15 Mar. 2022 To understand how a defense gland evolved, the Caltech researchers focused on the species Dalotia coriaria, in the Aleocharinae subfamily. Quanta Magazine, 16 Aug. 2021 Chagas disease kills about 12,000 people each year and is spread by a subfamily of insects known as kissing bugs (for their tendency to bite the soft skin around the mouth). Bill Heavey, Field & Stream, 5 Aug. 2020 The name is so powerful that Ford may roll out Mustang as an offshoot brand à la Ram (née Dodge) or Genesis (Hyundai)—a subfamily of vehicles meant to be united by Mustang DNA. Andrew Moseman, Fortune, 7 Apr. 2020 Captured on camera bare-skinned and with eyes closed, the little female displays all the calm and tranquility her Halcyoninae subfamily implies. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, 1 June 2018 With help from the Chinese sequencing giant BGI, B10K has already sequenced to some degree the genomes of more than 300 birds, with representatives for each family and subfamily. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, 16 Apr. 2018 Susanne Foitzik, an evolutionary biologist at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany who was not involved in the new research, has discovered a few candidate genes in another slavemaking group of ants—the Myrmicinae subfamily. Erica Tennenhouse, Science | AAAS, 11 Apr. 2018 The subfamily Ursinae, which includes six of the eight living bear species today, is even younger, evolving a mere 2 million to 5 million years ago. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 10 Nov. 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of subfamily

1805, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for subfamily

International Scientific Vocabulary

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The first known use of subfamily was in 1805

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Cite this Entry

“Subfamily.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for subfamily


sub·​fam·​i·​ly | \ ˈsəb-ˌfam-(ə-)lē How to pronounce subfamily (audio) \

Medical Definition of subfamily

: a category in biological classification ranking below a family and above a genus


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