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See more synonyms for familiar on Thesaurus.com
  1. commonly or generally known or seen: a familiar sight.
  2. well-acquainted; thoroughly conversant: to be familiar with a subject.
  3. informal; easygoing; unceremonious; unconstrained: to write in a familiar style.
  4. closely intimate or personal: a familiar friend; to be on familiar terms.
  5. unduly intimate; too personal; taking liberties; presuming: The duchess disliked familiar servants.
  6. domesticated; tame.
  7. of or relating to a family or household.
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  1. a familiar friend or associate.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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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 formsfa·mil·iar·ly, adverbfa·mil·iar·ness, nounnon·fa·mil·iar, adjectivenon·fa·mil·iar·ly, adverbo·ver·fa·mil·iar, adjectiveo·ver·fa·mil·iar·ly, adverbpre·fa·mil·iar, adjectivepre·fa·mil·iar·ly, adverbqua·si-fa·mil·iar, adjectivequa·si-fa·mil·iar·ly, adverbul·tra·fa·mil·iar, adjective

Synonyms for familiar

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for familiar

simple, mundane, usual, intimate, recognizable, aware, acquainted, conversant, easy, comfortable, commonplace, natural, homespun, plain, household, domestic, routine, ordinary, native, stock

Examples from the Web for familiar

Contemporary Examples of familiar

Historical Examples of familiar

  • The tune was familiar to her in happier days, and she listened to it with tears.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • His frank, familiar manner made him a favorite on shipboard.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Mr. Gladstone knew what books he had and was familiar with their contents.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • "Listen, Dick," said he, using the familiar name for the first time.


    William J. Locke

  • His name, once the most familiar, was forgotten in the list of American bards.

    Biographical Sketches

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

British Dictionary definitions for familiar


  1. well-known; easily recognizeda familiar figure
  2. frequent or customarya familiar excuse
  3. (postpositive foll by with) acquainted
  4. friendly; informal
  5. close; intimate
  6. more intimate than is acceptable; presumptuous
  7. an archaic word for familial
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  1. Also called: familiar spirit a supernatural spirit often assuming animal form, supposed to attend and aid a witch, wizard, etc
  2. a person, attached to the household of the pope or a bishop, who renders service in return for support
  3. an officer of the Inquisition who arrested accused persons
  4. a friend or frequent companion
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Derived Formsfamiliarly, adverbfamiliarness, noun

Word Origin for familiar

C14: from Latin familiāris domestic, from familia family
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

Word Origin and History for familiar


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with familiar


see have a familiar ring.

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