Definition of familiar in English:

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Pronunciation: /fəˈmɪlɪə/


1Well known from long or close association: their faces will be familiar to many of you a familiar voice
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • 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, known, recognized, accustomed;
common, everyday, day-to-day, ordinary, commonplace, frequent, habitual, usual, customary, repeated, routine, standard, stock, mundane, run-of-the-mill, conventional;
household, domestic;
British  common or garden;
North American  garden variety
informal bog-standard
literary wonted
1.2 (familiar with) Having a good knowledge of: ensure that you are familiar with the heating controls
More example sentences
  • 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, informed about, knowledgeable about, well informed about, instructed in, skilled in, proficient in;
at home with, no stranger to, au fait with, au courant with, apprised of, abreast of, up to date with, in touch with
informal well up on, in the know about, genned up on, clued in on, clued up on, plugged into
British informal switched on to
archaic ware of
2In close friendship; intimate: she had not realized they were on such familiar terms
More example sentences
  • 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.
close, intimate, dear, near, confidential, bosom;
friendly, neighbourly, sociable, amicable, easy
informal pally, chummy, matey, buddy-buddy, palsy-walsy, thick, thick as thieves
2.1Informal or intimate to an inappropriate degree: he was being overly familiar with Gloria
More example sentences
  • 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.
overfamiliar, unduly familiar, over-free, presumptuous, disrespectful, forward, bold, impudent, impertinent, intrusive;
making passes at, chatting up, making advances towards
informal pushy


1 (also familiar spirit) A demon supposedly attending and obeying a witch, often said to assume the form of an animal: her familiars were her two little griffons that nested in her skirts
More example sentences
  • 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.
2A close friend or associate.
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.
3(In the Roman Catholic Church) a person rendering certain services in a pope’s or bishop’s household.
Example sentences
  • 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.



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, family', from famulus 'servant'.

Words that rhyme with familiar

bougainvillea, Brasília, cilia, conciliar, haemophilia (US hemophilia), Hillier, juvenilia, memorabilia, paedophilia (US pedophilia), sedilia

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: fa¦mil|iar

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