Definition of family in English:

family

Line breaks: fam¦ily
Pronunciation: /ˈfamɪli
 
, -m(ə)l-/

noun (plural families)

  • 3A group of related things: all manuscripts that share this reading constitute a family
    More example sentences
    • The news that GABA receptors constitute a family of proteins was music to drug companies' ears.
    • They constitute a large family that includes both parasitic and free-living varieties.
    • Luther dramatically succeeded and thereby inaugurated a new family of Protestant readings.
  • 3.1 Biology A principal taxonomic category that ranks above genus and below order, usually ending in -idae (in zoology) or -aceae (in botany): the cabbage family
    More example sentences
    • If one denies paraphyletic taxa, where do genera and families come from?
    • The simulated taxa can be seen as analogous to genera or families, the usual focus of diversity studies.
    • In addition, honeyeaters are known to forage on a range of plant families, genera and species at any one time, and do not rely on a single plant species for food.
    Synonyms
    taxonomic group, group, order, class, subclass, genus, species; stock, strain, line
    technical taxon, phylum
  • 3.2All the languages ultimately derived from a particular early language, regarded as a group: the Austronesian language family
    More example sentences
    • Austronesian languages, like other language families, are very different from Indo-European.
    • Hmong-Mien is one of the major language families spoken in southern China and Southeast Asia.
    • Language families and subfamilies are indicated on the branches of the tree.
  • 3.3 Mathematics A group of curves or surfaces obtained by varying the value of a constant in the equation generating them.
    More example sentences
    • Infinite families of cyclic Steiner triple systems and Room squares are constructed [in the papers].
    • Families of curves arise, for example, in the solutions to differential equations with a free parameter.
    • We have developed galleries of animations that can be used by instructors at various levels to enhance the idea of families of curves and graphs and how the members of the family change when certain parameters are varied.

adjective

[attributive] Back to top  
  • Designed to be suitable for children as well as adults: a family newspaper
    More example sentences
    • It is worth noting that this new format is suitable only for family farms where no labour is employed.
    • At first sight this focus on the home might seem to impose a general standard of what is suitable for family viewing.
    • It is a family drama designed for an early evening prime-time slot.

Phrases

in the family way

informal Pregnant: he would disgrace them by getting a girl in the family way
More example sentences
  • What are you going to do if she gets in the family way?
  • What seems possible is that Summer, having got Bridget pregnant, fell in with the precociously clever Jenny Jones and put her in the family way as well.
  • It's as simple as this: You don't walk out on a girl who's in the family way.

sell (or sell off) the family silver

Part with a valuable resource for immediate advantage: the suggestion that privatization is selling off the family silver
More example sentences
  • But at a time when business values are falling, stakeholders tend not to take kindly to selling the family silver at a knock-down price.
  • When the sale was announced it was seen as one of the most important strategic decisions in the group's history, likened to selling the family silver.
  • While it will be running hard to keep up with its younger peers in the telecoms sector, it won't be selling the family silver to do so.

Origin

late Middle English (in sense 2 of the noun; also denoting the servants of a household or the retinue of a nobleman): from Latin familia 'household servants, family', from famulus 'servant'.

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