Definition of familiar in English:


Syllabification: fa·mil·iar
Pronunciation: /fəˈmilyər


  • 1Well known from long or close association: their faces will be familiar to many of you a familiar voice
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    • Another local man whose voice is so familiar to listeners is news presenter Sen O'Ciobhn who has been with the station since its foundation.
    • Their brother Alan is the chief P.A. announcer at Old Trafford and his voice is familiar to many regulars who visit the famous ground.
    • His distinctive voice has long been familiar to Chinese audiences.
  • 1.1Often encountered or experienced; common: the situation was all too familiar
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    • But a brush with the new authorities can mean a familiar encounter over identity cards and threats.
    • The current debate around common factors feels quite familiar.
    • Well if you were vindicating your right of exclusive possession of the premises, you are in a very familiar common law area.
    well-known, recognized, accustomed; common, commonplace, everyday, day-to-day, ordinary, habitual, usual, customary, routine, standard, stock, mundane, run-of-the-mill
    literary wonted
  • 1.2 [predic.] (familiar with) Having a good knowledge of: ensure that you are familiar with the heating controls
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    • Our goal is to inspire those who are already familiar with what we believe and inform those who are not.
    • Most people will be familiar with the feeling that once one has seen one Roman ruin one might as well have seen the lot.
    • It adds to the enjoyment if you are familiar with this type of story, and I admit you might be a bit lost without it.
    acquainted with, conversant with, versed in, knowledgeable of, well-informed in/of; skilled in, proficient in; at home with, no stranger to, au fait with, au courant with
    informal up on, in the know about
  • 2In close friendship; intimate: she had not realized they were on such familiar terms
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    • A lump formed in Lexus' throat, as he watched his oldest, and most familiar confidante, and friend, slip away.
    • The old man was on familiar terms with Matusoka Tamaki.
    • Everson dropped the usual ‘Humbly report Your Levity’ and spoke to the wizard in very familiar terms.
    informal, casual, relaxed, easy, comfortable; friendly, unceremonious, unreserved, open, natural, unpretentious
  • 2.1Informal to an inappropriate degree.
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    • There is no room for your overly familiar, glaringly inappropriate questions.
    • I'm glad I read everyone else's reviews about the over familiar waiters, because I had a hard time convincing my boyfriend I hadn't been before when on my first time there the waiter came over, put his arm round me and said it was great to see me again.
    • Personally, I think he's a bit too familiar and a little too "nice" with all his happy hours and friendliness. But it works for him so far.
    presumptuous, overfamiliar, disrespectful, forward, bold, impudent, impertinent


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  • 1 (also familiar spirit) A demon supposedly attending and obeying a witch, often said to assume the form of an animal.
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    • The familiar of a witch is always a black cat; and it is supposed that black cats have powers and faculties quite different from all other of the feline tribe.
    • In the early modern period both familiars and fairies were believed to possess a range of supernatural powers which were considered capable of affecting almost any aspect of human life.
    • Both familiars and fairies could appear dressed wholly in black, or wholly in white, or in any variety of colours in between.
  • 2(In the Roman Catholic Church) a person rendering certain services in a pope’s or bishop’s household.
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    • Familiars actually dwelling in a monastery may receive their Easter Communion in the church or chapel of the monastery.
    • In 1307, after having written the "Arbor vitae", he was chosen chaplain and familiar to Cardinal Napoleone Orsini.
  • 3A close friend or associate.
    More example sentences
    • Associating with familiars can potentially provide individuals with important benefits, including enhanced group antipredator behavior.
    • His son, James Maury, a familiar of this group, was in after years appointed first United States Consul to Liverpool by George Washington.



More example sentences
  • I will be leaving behind a landscape I know familiarly, that I observe closely, that I love.
  • Davies followed an early yellow card with that second booking, and the 131st north London derby took on a familiarly modern pattern.
  • But now there is a new highway, familiarly known as the GT Road, and no different from any other.


Middle English (in the sense 'intimate,' 'on a family footing'): from Old French familier, from Latin familiaris, from familia 'household servants, household, family', from famulus 'servant'.

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