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Why can the phrase "your folks" be used to refer to "your parents"? What is the origin of this usage?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Oxford English Dictionary's earliest citation for folks meaning ‘the people of one's family, parents, children, relatives’ is dated 1715. It’s an example of semantic narrowing in which a word used to describe a general category takes on a specific meaning.

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Like Germanic Tier ('animal') being narrowed to deer in Modern English. – John Lawler Jul 11 '12 at 20:27
And people, with the same meaning, is even older: the OED has a (probable) citation from 1474 – TimLymington Jul 11 '12 at 20:28

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