Family ( la, familia, plural ') is one of the eight major hierarchical
Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
s in Linnaean taxonomy
; it is classified between order
Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank
Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification s ...
. A family may be divided into subfamilies
, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example,
trees and hickory
trees belong to the family Juglandaceae
, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".
What belongs to a family—or if a described family should be recognized at all—are proposed and determined by practicing taxonomists. There are no hard rules for describing or recognizing a family. Taxonomists often take different positions about descriptions, and there may be no broad consensus across the scientific community for some time. The publishing of new data and opinions often enables adjustments and consensus.
The naming of families is codified by various international bodies using the following suffixes:
*In fungal, algal, and
Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from Alpha taxonomy, taxonomy. Plant taxonomy is concerned with grouping and classifying plants; botanical nomenclature then provides names for the r ...
, the family names of plants, fungi, and algae end with the suffix " -aceae
", with the exception of a small number of historic but widely used names including Compositae
*In zoological nomenclature, the family names of animals end with the suffix " -idae
The taxonomic term ' was first used by French botanist Pierre Magnol in his ' (1689) where he called the seventy-six groups of plants he recognised in his tables families ('). The concept of rank at that time was not yet settled, and in the preface to the ' Magnol spoke of uniting his families into larger ', which is far from how the term is used today.
Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomia ... used the word ' in his ' (1751) to denote major groups of plants: s, herb
In general use, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, for medicinal purposes, or for fragrances; excluding vegetables and other plants consumed for macronutrients. Culinary use typ ...s, fern
A fern (Polypodiopsida or Polypodiophyta ) is a member of a group of vascular plants (plants with xylem and phloem) that reproduce via spores and have neither seed
A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer coverin ...s, Palmae, palms, and so on. He used this term only in the morphological section of the book, discussing the vegetative and generative organs of plants.
Subsequently, in French botanical publications, from Michel Adanson's ' (1763) and until the end of the 19th century, the word ' was used as a French equivalent of the Latin ' (or ').
In zoology, the family as a rank intermediate between order and genus was introduced by Pierre André Latreille in his ' (1796). He used families (some of them were not named) in some but not in all his orders of "insects" (which then included all arthropods).
In nineteenth-century works such as the ' of Augustin Pyramus de Candolle and the ' of George Bentham and Joseph Dalton Hooker this word ' was used for what now is given the rank of family.
Families can be used for evolutionary, palaeontological and genetic studies because they are more stable than lower taxonomic levels such as genera and species.
* Systematics, the study of the diversity of future
* Cladistics, the classification of organisms by their order of branching in an evolutionary tree
* Phylogenetics, the study of evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms
* Taxonomy (biology), Taxonomy
* Virus classification
* List of Anuran families
* List of Testudines families
* List of fish families
* List of families of spiders