sub·​fam·​i·​ly ˈsəb-ˌfam-lē How to pronounce subfamily (audio)
: a category in biological classification ranking below a family and above a genus
: a subgroup of languages within a language family

Examples of subfamily in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Pit vipers are a subfamily of venomous snakes that have heat-sensing organs in between their eyes and nose, according to the American Museum of Natural History. Irene Wright, Miami Herald, 5 Apr. 2024 In the 1990s, a group of scientists used molecular analysis to show that skunks and polecats are in different subfamilies despite looking similar. Elizabeth Gamillo, Discover Magazine, 29 Mar. 2024 Subsequent partial gene deletions and fusions sculpted the various protein subfamilies found in rattlesnake venom metalloproteinases. Scott Travers, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 After examining the dataset, the team’s program established two wholly independent European and Asian sign language families alongside family trees for each one, as well as two distinct Asian sign language subfamilies. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 1 Feb. 2024 There were dozens of subfamilies distinguished by different types of teeth, diets and reproductive styles. Steve Brusatte, Scientific American, 1 June 2022 There are three subfamilies of the klotho protein that are formed depending on how the klotho gene is spliced (Figure 1). William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2023 These subfamilies are alpha, beta, and gamma. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2023 But entomologists hypothesized that F. archboldi might just be a prey specialist of trap-jaw ants, a particular rarity within its generally-generalist subfamily. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 12 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'subfamily.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

1805, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of subfamily was in 1805

Dictionary Entries Near subfamily

Cite this Entry

“Subfamily.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


sub·​fam·​i·​ly ˈsəb-ˌfam-(ə-)lē How to pronounce subfamily (audio)
: a category in biological classification ranking below a family and above a genus
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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