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Famous Last Words


[fuh-mil-yer] /fəˈmɪl yər/
commonly or generally known or seen:
a familiar sight.
well-acquainted; thoroughly conversant:
to be familiar with a subject.
informal; easygoing; unceremonious; unconstrained:
to write in a familiar style.
closely intimate or personal:
a familiar friend; to be on familiar terms.
unduly intimate; too personal; taking liberties; presuming:
The duchess disliked familiar servants.
domesticated; tame.
of or relating to a family or household.
a familiar friend or associate.
Also called familiar spirit. Witchcraft and Demonology. a supernatural spirit or demon, often in the form of an animal, supposed to serve and aid a witch or other individual.
Roman Catholic Church.
  1. an officer of the Inquisition, employed to arrest accused or suspected persons.
  2. a person who belongs to the household of the pope or of a bishop, rendering domestic though not menial service.
Origin of familiar
1300-50; Middle English < Latin familiāris of a household (see family, -ar1); replacing Middle English famulier < Middle French < Latin, as above
Related forms
familiarly, adverb
familiarness, noun
nonfamiliar, adjective
nonfamiliarly, adverb
overfamiliar, adjective
overfamiliarly, adverb
prefamiliar, adjective
prefamiliarly, adverb
quasi-familiar, adjective
quasi-familiarly, adverb
ultrafamiliar, adjective
4. Familiar, confidential, intimate suggest a long association between persons. Familiar means well-acquainted with another person: a familiar friend. Confidential suggests a sense of mutual trust that extends to the sharing of confidences and secrets: a confidential adviser. Intimate suggests close acquaintance or connection, often based on interest, sympathy, or affection: intimate and affectionate letters. 5. forward, bold. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for familiar spirit
Historical Examples
  • Witchcraft which is fellowship by covenant with a familiar spirit to be punished with death.

  • Yes, she liked them, but she thought they were written by a familiar spirit.

    Overlooked Maurice Baring
  • The dead were sometimes raised by those who did not possess a familiar spirit.

    Mysticism and its Results John Delafield
  • The grim “familiar spirit” had triumphed over its evil master.

  • Under one arm she carried her familiar spirit, in the likeness of a black cat, with a single emerald eye.

    The Old-Fashioned Fairy Book Constance Cary Harrison
  • We fear it will be a case of Hamlet without the familiar spirit.

  • Then said Saul to his servants, "Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her."

    The Bible Story Rev. Newton Marshall Hall
  • If any man or woman be a witch (that is, hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit) they shall be put to death.

  • It took me three years of steady work to find that familiar spirit—to discover the exact combination of qualities I required.

    The Air Pirate Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • Always one had been at his elbow—“a familiar spirit out of the ground”—whispering in his ear.

    Northern Lights Gilbert Parker
British Dictionary definitions for familiar spirit


well-known; easily recognized: a familiar figure
frequent or customary: a familiar excuse
(postpositive) foll by with. acquainted
friendly; informal
close; intimate
more intimate than is acceptable; presumptuous
an archaic word for familial
Also called familiar spirit. a supernatural spirit often assuming animal form, supposed to attend and aid a witch, wizard, etc
a person, attached to the household of the pope or a bishop, who renders service in return for support
an officer of the Inquisition who arrested accused persons
a friend or frequent companion
Derived Forms
familiarly, adverb
familiarness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin familiāris domestic, from familiafamily
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for familiar spirit



mid-14c., "intimate, very friendly, on a family footing," from Old French famelier, from Latin familiaris "domestic, of a household;" also "familiar, intimate, friendly," dissimilated from *familialis, from familia (see family). The sense gradually broadened. Of things, from late 15c. The noun meaning "demon, evil spirit that answers one's call" is from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with familiar spirit


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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