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A family consists of a domestic group of people (or a number of domestic groups), typically affiliated by birth or marriage, or by analogous or comparable relationships — including domestic partnership, cohabitation, adoption, surname and (in some cases) ownership (as occurred in the Roman Empire). In many societies, family ties are only those recognized as such by law or a similar normative system. The different types of families occur in a wide variety of settings, and their specific functions and meanings depend largely on their relationship to other social institutions.


  • Eine Familie, die keine schwarzen Schafe hat, ist keine charakteristische Familie.
    • A family without a black sheep is not a typical family.
    • Heinrich Böll, "Die schwarzen Schafe" (1951); cited from 1947 bis 1951 (Köln: F. Middelhauve, 1963) p. 478. Translation: "Black Sheep", in Leila Vennewitz (trans.) The Stories of Heinrich Böll (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1995) p. 408.
  • The Court must never forget, and will never forget, first of all, the rights of family life which are sacred.
    • Bowen, L.J., In re Agar-Ellis, Agar-Ellis v. Lascelles, (1883), id., L. R. 24 C. D. 337; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 188.
  • Jason Street: When success is essential to keeping a family together there is nothing a man won't do. Nothing.
  • Don Corleone: You spend time with your family?
    Johnny Fontane: Sure I do.
    Don Corleone: Good. 'Cause a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.
  • I rejoice to think that since the days of Queen Elizabeth, our laws have been so far humanized that a bastard child is no longer a mere thing to be shunned by an overseer,—whose existence is unrecognised until it becomes a pauper, and whose only legitimate home is a workhouse, that it is no longer permissible to punish its unfortunate mother with hard labour for a year, nor its father with a whipping at the cart's tail; but that even an illegitimate child may find itself a member of some honest family, and that the sole obligation now cast upon its parents is that each may be compelled to bear his and her own fair share of the maintenance and education of the unfortunate offspring of their common failing.
    • Hawkins, J., Hardy v. Atherton (1881), L. R. 7 Q. B. 269; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 18.
  • The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have past at home in the bosom of my family…. public emploiment contributes neither to advantage nor happiness. It is but honorable exile from one’s family and affairs.
    • Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Willis, Jr., April 18, 1790.—The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, vol. 16, p. 353 (1961).
  • The family consists of those who live under the same roof with the pater familias; those who form (if I may use the expression) his fire-side.
    • Lord Kenyon, C.J., R. v. Inhabitants of Darlington (1792), 4 T. R. 800; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 92.
  • i
    have often noticed that
    ancestors never boast
    of the descendants who boast
    of ancestors i would
    rather start a family than
    finish one blood will tell but often
    it tells too much
  • A friend loves you for your intelligence, a mistress for your charm, but your family's love is unreasoning; you were born into it and are of its flesh and blood. Nevertheless it can irritate you more than any group of people in the world.
    • André Maurois, The Art of Family Life, Un Art de Vivre (The Art of Living) (1939).
  • When harmony, mutual consideration and trust pass out of the home, hell enters in.
  • If I knew something useful to me and harmful to my family, I should put it out of my mind. If I knew something useful to my family and not to my country, I should try to forget it. If I knew something useful to my country and harmful to Europe, or useful to Europe and harmful to the human race, I should consider it a crime.
  • The thing you can always rely on, your core person, comes from your family's attention and love.
  • The family is always the family but during vacations it is an extended family and that is exhausting.
  • All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
  • For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
    • Bible, Micah 7:6.

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