Meaning of FAMILY in English


fam ‧ i ‧ ly S1 W1 /ˈfæm ə li/ BrE AmE noun ( plural families )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ familiarity ≠ ↑ unfamiliarity , ↑ family , ↑ familiarization ; adjective : ↑ familiar ≠ ↑ unfamiliar , ↑ familial ; verb : ↑ familiarize ; adverb : ↑ familiarly ]

[ Date: 1400-1500 ; Origin: familia 'people living in a house' , from famulus 'servant' ]

1 . CLOSELY RELATED GROUP [countable] a group of people who are related to each other, especially a mother, a father, and their children:

Do you know the family next door?

The Webb family still has its farm over there.

[also + plural verb] British English :

The family now live in London.

This house isn’t big enough for a family of seven.

2 . ALL YOUR RELATIONS [C,U also + plural verb BrE] all the people you are related to, including those who are now dead:

I’m moving to Detroit because I have some family there.

My family come from Scotland originally.

in sb’s family

That painting has been in our family (=been owned by our family) for 200 years.

Asthma runs in the family (=is common in the family) .

3 . CHILDREN [countable] children:

Couples with young families wouldn’t want to live here.

They’re getting married next year, and hope to start a family (=have children) straight away.

bring up/raise a family

the problems of bringing up a family on a very low income

4 . family size/pack etc a container or package containing a large amount of a product

5 . GROUP OF ANIMALS/THINGS [countable] technical a group of related animals, plants, languages etc

the cat/parrot/squirrel etc family

The cat family includes lions and tigers.

Spanish and Italian are part of the Romance language family.

6 . she’s/he’s family informal used to emphasize your connection with someone who is related to you

7 . in the family way old-fashioned ↑ pregnant

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meanings 1 & 2)

■ adjectives

▪ the whole family

We invited the whole family round.

▪ all the family

This is a game which all the family can enjoy.

▪ somebody's immediate family (=closest relations)

What if one of your immediate family were disabled?

▪ somebody's extended family (=including not only parents and children, but also grandparents, aunts etc)

She gets a lot of help from her extended family.

▪ a large/small family

She came from a large family of seven children.

▪ a one-parent/single-parent family

One in seven families is a one-parent family.

▪ the nuclear family (=a family consisting of a mother, a father, and their children)

Not everyone lives in a typical nuclear family.

▪ close/close-knit family (=spending a lot of time together and supporting each other)

Laura's family are very close.

▪ the Royal family (=the king or queen and their family)

The Royal Family have large estates in Scotland.

▪ the Smith/Jones/Brown etc family

The Smith family are living in temporary accommodation.

■ family + NOUN

▪ a family member/a member of the family

The event was attended by many of his family members, including his children and grandchildren.

▪ somebody's family background

He comes from a stable family background.

▪ a family history

Is there a family history of heart disease?

▪ family life

Some people believe that television is destroying family life.

▪ a family unit

the breakup of the traditional family unit

▪ somebody's family home (=where someone's family live and where they lived as a child)

Her family home is in a village outside Derry.

▪ a family business (=one run by members of a family)

My parents expected me to join the family business.

▪ a family car (=one designed for families with children)

It's a practical family car that is also fun to drive.

▪ a family holiday British English , a family vacation AmE:

Most of our family holidays were spent in the south of France.

▪ a family resemblance (=when members of the same family look like each other)

There's a strong family resemblance between all the sisters.


► Do not say 'my family is five' , 'my family is five members/people' , or 'my family is of five members/people' . Say there are five people in my family .

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.