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 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, "The 10 Deadliest Animals on Earth," 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, "When reinventing a classic car name works—and why it fails," 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, "This Royally Adorable Baby Kingfisher Perpetuates a Species Extinct in the Wild," 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, "Bigger, better bird tree of life will soon fly into view," 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, "How blood-red ants became slave snatchers," 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, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Bears," 10 Nov. 2017 In the 1980s and 1990s, Robert Jackson of New Zealand’s University of Canterbury demonstrated that Portia fimbriata, a member of this spider-snacking subfamily, methodically plans winding detours to sneak up on prey spiders. National Geographic, "Jumping Spiders Can Think Ahead, Plan Detours," 21 Jan. 2016

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.

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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 12 May. 2021.

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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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