Family Vocabulary in French

The family is an integral part of French culture. A person's family can include relatives such as grandparents, siblings, and cousins, as well as other people - step-sisters, parents-in-law, and many more. Family members often share a strong emotional connection and social bonds which are often based on mutual affection and care.

This article will provide you with new words related to la famille that you can learn to better understand the topic and expand your French vocabulary. We will also share with you the family traditions in French as well as tell you more about the way French families function.

By the end of this article, you should have a good understanding of the French concept of family and how it differs from other cultures. This can help you get to know French culture better as well as communicate with the French native speakers without making mistakes or offending someone accidentally.

Now, let's dive right in - and learn everything you need about the French family vocabulary.

Family in French: Key Vocabulary

La famille - French for “family” - refers not only to the immediate family - parents and their children - but also other relatives, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Here is the important French vocabulary related to la famille that you should know:

les membres de la famille – family members



le père


le papa


la mère



mum (mommy)

les parents


les enfants


le fils


la fille


le frère


la sœur


le mari


la femme


la famille élargie – extended family





la tante


le neveu


la nièce


le cousin / la cousine

cousin (m/f)

les grands-parents


le grand-père


la grand-mère


les petits-enfants


le petit-fils


la petite-fille


le cousin germain / la cousine germaine

first cousin

le cousin issu de germain / la cousine issue de germaine

second cousin

la belle-famille – family-in-law/stepfamily



le beau-fils

son-in-law or stepson

la belle-fille

daughter-in-law or stepdaughter

le beau-père

father-in-law or stepfather

la belle-mère

mother-in-law or stepmother

le demi-frère

half-brother or stepbrother

la demi-soeur

half-sister or stepsister

le beau-frère


la belle-soeur




Family Vocabulary in French

famille adoptive – adoptive family



père adoptif

adoptive father

mère adoptive

adoptive mother

fils adoptif

adopted son

fille adoptive

adopted daughter

père biologique

biological father

mère biologique

biological mother

famille nourricière / famille d’accueil – foster family



père nourricier / d’accueil

foster father

mère nourricière / d’accueil

foster mother

enfant placé dans une famille

foster child

other important family-related vocabulary:



la famille recomposée

blended family

la famille monoparentale

single-parent family

les membres de la famille

family members









l’aîné / l’aînée

the eldest (m/f)

le cadet / la cadette

younger (m/f)

le benjamin / la benjamine

the youngest (m/f)

les jumeaux / les jumelles

twins (m/f)

les triplés / les triplées


les arrière-grands-parents

great grandparents

les arrière-petits-enfants

great grandchildren

les proches


Family-Related Expressions in French

There are many different French expressions that are related to the French family vocabulary. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Un air de famille – family likeness/family resemblance.
  • Laver son linge sale en famille – to settle conflicts in private (literally translates to “wash your dirty laundry within the family”).
  • Faire partie de la famille – to be a part of the family.
  • S'entendre comme larrons en foire avec sa famille – to have an easy relationship/to get along with one's family.
  • Il ne faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties / Faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties – Don’t push it or don’t exaggerate it (lit. Don’t push granny into the stinging nettles).
  • Un oncle d’Amérique – a rich person from your family who moved abroad a long time ago (lit. an uncle from America).
Family Vocabulary in French

Family in the French Culture

The family traditions in France date back to the 19th century. In those times, there was a clear separation of roles among members of French families - male leadership and female submission. The family unit used to be a true ensemble where each family member had a particular task and responsibility.

This changed with the French Revolution in 1789, as well as throughout the 20th century - from the World Wars to today's modern times.

Modern Families in France

Today, the traditional family structure is no longer as common as it once was. In fact, the stay-at-home mother is now a rarity. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no "one size fits all" model for them.

Some families are made up of a mother and father with children, while others include a single parent, grandparents, stepfamily or siblings who live together.

Family Vocabulary in French

One thing that remains the same, however, is the importance of family in French culture. Here, family relations are not limited to just the “nuclear family” – parents and their kids. Cousins often have close relationships, and extended family members are typically very supportive of one another - both emotionally and financially.

French Family Traditions

The French have a long and proud history of family traditions and many of these date back to the 19th century.

In today’s France, many children stay at home with their parents until they finish their education. Those who live independently still visit their close family - parents, and grandparents - during weekends. Celebrating holidays together is also common.

Family Holidays

One of the most important French family traditions is the celebration of Christmas. This holiday is considered to be a very important time for relatives to come together and spend time with one another. Christmas dinner is usually a big event, and family members often exchange gifts.

Another popular French family tradition is the celebration of la fête des mères (Mother's Day). This holiday is celebrated each year on the last Sunday in May, and it is a time for children to show their mothers how much they love and appreciate them. Families often go out for this day - for example, have a picnic in a park, go on a river cruise or have a day trip outside of the city.

Other French family holidays and traditions include:

  • Celebrating the birth of children with les fêtes des naissances (birthday showers).
  • Having le repas de famille (family meals).
  • Inviting extended family over for dîner (to have dinner) on Sundays.
Family Vocabulary in French
  • Hosting grandes réunions familiales (large family gatherings) on special occasions such as anniversaries and weddings.


Now you should be familiar with all the important French family vocabulary, as well as the main traits of French family life. Of course, this is just a start - to get the hang of it and be able to use these French words and expressions actively and without thinking much, you should practice regularly - for example, with the Langster app.

Nevertheless, if you want to experience that French family culture, use French family vocabulary, and maybe even take part in the French family traditions, going to France is definitely the thing to do. There, you can make new friends, meet French people - and who knows, maybe one day you’ll be a dinner guest at their home?

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Beata Hardzei

Beata Hardzei loves languages and shares this passion through her writing. Speaking English, Polish, Russian, and French, she explores the nuances of foreign languages, aiming to make learning feel more like a journey than a task. Beata's background as a teacher and translator enriches her insights, helping you see language learning as an accessible, enriching experience.