• WordNet 3.6
    • adj familiar having mutual interests or affections; of established friendship "on familiar terms","pretending she is on an intimate footing with those she slanders"
    • adj familiar well known or easily recognized "a familiar figure","familiar songs","familiar guests"
    • adj familiar within normal everyday experience; common and ordinary; not strange "familiar ordinary objects found in every home","a familiar everyday scene","a familiar excuse","a day like any other filled with familiar duties and experiences"
    • adj familiar (usually followed by `with') well informed about or knowing thoroughly "conversant with business trends","familiar with the complex machinery","he was familiar with those roads"
    • n familiar a spirit (usually in animal form) that acts as an assistant to a witch or wizard
    • n familiar a friend who is frequently in the company of another "drinking companions","comrades in arms"
    • n familiar a person attached to the household of a high official (as a pope or bishop) who renders service in return for support
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: In the 19th century, craftsmen who made hats were known to be excitable and irrational, as well as to tremble with palsy and mix up their words. Such behavior gave rise to the familiar expression "mad as a hatter". The disorder, called hatter's shakes, was caused by chronic mercury poisoning from the solution used to treat the felt. Attacking the central nervous system, the toxin led to behavioral symptoms.
    • Familiar (Court of Inquisition) A confidential officer employed in the service of the tribunal, especially in apprehending and imprisoning the accused.
    • Familiar An attendant demon or evil spirit.
    • Familiar An intimate; a companion. "All my familiars watched for my halting."
    • Familiar Characterized by, or exhibiting, the manner of an intimate friend; not formal; unconstrained; easy; accessible. "In loose, familiar strains.""Be thou familiar , but by no means vulgar."
    • Familiar Closely acquainted or intimate, as a friend or companion; well versed in, as any subject of study; as, familiar with the Scriptures.
    • Familiar Improperly acquainted; wrongly intimate.
    • Familiar Of or pertaining to a family; domestic. "Familiar feuds."
    • Familiar Well known; well understood; common; frequent; as, a familiar illustration. "That war, or peace, or both at once, may be
      As things acquainted and familiar to us."
      "There is nothing more familiar than this."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Of the 2200 persons quoted in the current edition of "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations," only 164 are women.
    • familiar Pertaining to a family; domestic.
    • familiar Having, or springing from, intimate and friendly social relations; closely intimate: as, a familiar friend; familiar companionship; to be on familiar terms with one.
    • familiar Having a friendly aspect or manner; exhibiting the manner of an intimate friend; affable; not formal or distant; especially, using undue familiarity; intrusive; forward.
    • familiar Characterized by ease or absence of stiffness or pedantry; unconstrained.
    • familiar Having an intimate knowledge; well knowing; well acquainted; well versed (in a subject of study): as, he is familiar with the works of Horace.
    • familiar Well known from frequent observation, use, etc.; well understood.
    • familiar Synonyms Close, intimate, amicable, fraternal, near.
    • n familiar A familiar friend; an intimate; a close companion; one long acquainted; one accustomed to another by free, unreserved converse.
    • n familiar A familiar spirit; a demon or evil spirit supposed to attend at call. See familiar spirit, under I.
    • n familiar In the Roman Catholic Church, a member of the household of the pope or of a bishop, supported at his expense, and rendering him domestic, though not menial service. The familiar must live in the diocese of his superior.
    • n familiar An officer of the Tribunal of the Inquisition who arrested persons accused or suspected. See inquisition.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Familiar fa-mil′yar well acquainted or intimate: showing the manner of an intimate: free: unceremonious: having a thorough knowledge of: well known or understood: private, domestic: common, plain
    • n Familiar one well or long acquainted: a spirit or demon supposed to attend an individual at call: a member of a pope's or bishop's household: the officer of the Inquisition who arrested the suspected
    • ***


  • Felicia D. Hemans
    Felicia D. Hemans
    “There's beauty all around our paths, if but our watchful eyes can trace it midst familiar things, and through their lowly guise.”
  • J. William Galbraith
    J. William Galbraith
    “Familiarity may breed contempt in some areas of human behavior, but in the field of social ideas it is the touchstone of acceptability.”
  • Mary Byrant
    Mary Byrant
    “Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.”
  • Thomas Haynes Bayly
    Thomas Haynes Bayly
    “Oh! no! we never mention her, her name is never heard; my lips are now forbid to speak, that once familiar word.”
  • Francis Bacon
    “Men on their side must force themselves for a while to lay their notions by and begin to familiarize themselves with facts.”
  • John Dryden
    “All objects lose by too familiar a view.”


Familiarity breeds contempt - This means that the more you know something or someone, the more you start to find faults and dislike things about it or them.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. familer, familier, F. familier, fr. L. familiaris, fr. familia, family. See Family


In literature:

He dares not visit the residence, but watches for its familiar faces.
"Oswald Langdon" by Carson Jay Lee
On every face was a look like that of a captive leopard, dreaming of far-seen, familiar sands.
"A Daughter of the Middle Border" by Hamlin Garland
Familiar colored walls, familiar chatter and flurry of the afternoon edition going to press.
"Erik Dorn" by Ben Hecht
I do not think there was anybody on the race-ground who was not familiar with the older word.
"The Gypsies" by Charles G. Leland
A recent incident is told of a man whose name is a familiar one in the financial world, who died a few years ago.
"Quiet Talks on the Crowned Christ of Revelation" by S. D. Gordon
The "Problem of the Negro" is an old and familiar phrase.
"The Choctaw Freedmen" by Robert Elliott Flickinger
One expected her to address Fyne as Mr When she called him John it surprised one like a shocking familiarity.
"Chance" by Joseph Conrad
But even so their outline was familiar enough.
"The Heart of Unaga" by Ridgwell Cullum
Some of our familiar friends of the plains are still with us.
"Birds of the Indian Hills" by Douglas Dewar
But, along with the rapture of self-surrender, came a thousand familiar fears and anxieties.
"The History of Sir Richard Calmady" by Lucas Malet

In poetry:

And that far familiar faces
Press in at the tent door,
And the little children's footsteps
Go pit-pat on the floor.
"A Rainy Day in Camp" by Anonymous Americas
The moonlight leads her as she goes
Across a narrow plain,
By all the old, familiar ways
That know her steps again.
"A Little Ghost" by Dame Mary Gilmore DBE
I stared at the unfolding road,
Beneath the shadow of grand oaks, -
Such a familiar old road,
Surrounded by flower fence.
"The Road" by Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev
I saw through all familiar things
The romance underlying;
The joys and griefs that plume the wings
Of Fancy skyward flying.
"Burns" by John Greenleaf Whittier
I who love the Spring so well
Shall be sleeping, some glad day,
When her hosts come back to dwell
In their old, familiar way.
"A Distant Spring" by Charles Hanson Towne
As for some dear familiar strain
Untired we ask, and ask again,
Ever, in its melodious store,
Finding a spell unheard before;
"Morning" by John Keble

In news:

They say familiarity breeds contempt.
If you tune into the Travel Channel's "Toy Hunter" show on Nov 14 at 9 pm, you might see a familiar face.
A man becomes familiar with the details of his own funeral and it spooks him to the bone.
Familiar face on Vernon sidelines.
If you're not familiar with him, he also wrote "Zach's Lie," "Jack's Run," "Peak" and "Sasquatch," among others.
Where the familiar chive sends up small, rosy-purple globes in late spring, this one makes larger white star-shaped florets in late summer and early fall.
Chuckie Keeton and the Aggies to become familiar foe in Mountain West next year.
This bike pump could become as familiar as public water fountains.
When charity takes on a familiar face.
Brandon Marshall was fined for wearing orange cleats during the Chicago Bears' 13-7 win over the Detroit Lions on "Monday Night Football," a source familiar with the situation told ESPNChicago.com's Michael C Wright.
Shelley Banker is not going out of business, but The Rag and Bone vintage clothing store will not be in its familiar Calder Way home come Dec 31.
Designer Matthew Mead has a flair for creating home ideas that recast familiar items in inventive ways.
PHIILADELPHIA — If you pay any attention to hurricanes, you probably are well familiar with the likes of Alberto, Beryl, Chris, and Isaac.
Budget shortfalls are nothing new to public agencies, and they're all too familiar to Michigan's Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission (GCPRC).
A Familiar "New Face" at UNESCO.

In science:

The gravity solution resembles very much the Type IIB familiar case.
AdS/CFT Correspondence and Type 0 String Theory
The O(3) symmetry is the familiar isospin symmetry, which results in the near equality of the masses of the pions and of the mass of the proton and the neutron, fact (b).
Random Matrix Theory and Chiral Symmetry in QCD
This results in the partition function Zν (m) = ZU ∈U(Nf ) which is the familiar finite volume partition function to be discussed in Sec. 4.1.
Random Matrix Theory and Chiral Symmetry in QCD
These are a few familiar examples of periods associated to connections with irregular singular points on Riemann surfaces.
Homology for irregular connections
The fractional generalization of the familiar master equation for random walks turns out to be intimately related to the theory of continuous time random walks with power-law tails in the waiting time density .
On Fractional Diffusion and its Relation with Continuous Time Random Walks