familiar 1 of 2



2 of 2


Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective familiar contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of familiar are common, ordinary, plain, popular, and vulgar. While all these words mean "generally met with and not in any way special, strange, or unusual," familiar stresses the fact of being generally known and easily recognized.

a familiar melody

When would common be a good substitute for familiar?

The words common and familiar can be used in similar contexts, but common implies usual everyday quality or frequency of occurrence and may additionally suggest inferiority or coarseness.

a common error
lacked common honesty
common manners

Where would ordinary be a reasonable alternative to familiar?

The words ordinary and familiar are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, ordinary stresses conformance in quality or kind with the regular order of things.

an ordinary pleasant summer day
a very ordinary sort of man

When could plain be used to replace familiar?

While the synonyms plain and familiar are close in meaning, plain is likely to suggest homely simplicity.

plain hard-working people

When is popular a more appropriate choice than familiar?

In some situations, the words popular and familiar are roughly equivalent. However, 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

How do vulgar and popular relate to one another, in the sense of familiar?

Vulgar, otherwise similar to popular, is likely to carry derogatory connotations (as of inferiority or coarseness).

souvenirs designed to appeal to the vulgar taste

Thesaurus Entries Near familiar

Cite this Entry

“Familiar.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/familiar. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on familiar

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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