[suhb-fam-uh-lee, -fam-lee, suhb-fam-uh-lee, -fam-lee]
See more synonyms for subfamily on
noun, plural sub·fam·i·lies.
  1. Biology. a category of related genera within a family.
  2. Linguistics. (in the classification of related languages within a family) a category of a higher order than a branch.Compare branch(def 8), family(def 14).

Origin of subfamily

First recorded in 1825–35; sub- + family Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Historical Examples of subfamily

British Dictionary definitions for subfamily


noun plural -lies
  1. biology a taxonomic group that is a subdivision of a family
  2. any analogous subdivision, as of a family of languages
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

subfamily in Medicine


  1. A taxonomic category ranking between a family and a genus.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

subfamily in Science


  1. A subdivision of a family of organisms, containing one or more genera. The names of subfamilies in the animal kingdom typically end in -inae, as in Cerambycinae, a subfamily of the longhorn beetle family Cerambycidae.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.