Is there any lingual way to differentiate between the family that I’m a child of and the family that I am a parent of? (I.e., the first family consists of my parents, my siblings, and me; the second one consists of my spouse, my children and me.)

  • 2
    There's no word, you just have to explain: my parents and siblings (or my family when growing up) vs my spouse and kids.
    – Mitch
    Sep 19 '12 at 13:59
  • 1
    Your immediate family are those whose consanguinity coefficient is ½: parents, siblings, children. The rest are not immediate family, but extended family.
    – tchrist
    Sep 19 '12 at 14:45
  • If you are discussing both of them together, you can refer to them as my parents’ family and my family, respectively.
    – MetaEd
    Sep 19 '12 at 15:16

@JAM is right about 'family of origin.' (It does not mean one's 'original family', as contrasted with one's 'new' family.) It does have a clinical feel, though.

"Me and my brood" is a slangy way to refer exclusively to the second group: you and your spouse and children. It's interesting that the spouse is implicitly included (a quick google search will verify this.

From a lexical standpoint, I can't think of anything else.

From a pragmatic standpoint, I would usually go for adverbial or metaphorical expressions in the kinds of cases when the constrasting expressions you are looking for seem necessary. For example, "Under my parent's roof, a kid couldn't sleep over on weekends; under our roof, the kids won't stay at home on weeknights."

Finally, I think you used the word 'lingual' when you mean 'lexical'.


There is a commonly used term, nuclear family that means

a couple and their dependent children, regarded as a basic social unit.

Depending on the characteristics of the speaker, nuclear family might mean different things.

If the speaker were a person who did not have a significant other (spouse, domestic partner, baby mama or papa, etc.) and had no offspring, a reference to nuclear family would probably indicate his or her siblings and parents. However, if such a person were an adult living alone, she or he probably would not use the phrase, since it is most commonly used in reference to a familial group that usually lives together.

If the speaker had a cohabiting significant other, with or without offspring, nuclear family would most likely refer to them collectively (unless the speaker were reflecting to earlier, pre-affiliation and gestational times). However, some people would not describe cohabiting adults as a family unless there were some societally endorsed affiliation.

Finally, I believe that most people would consider a widow and her children (or widower and kids) a nuclear family. Many would consider a divorced, custodial parent and children to be nuclear, although that may vary based on social views and purpose of discussion.

In contrast, there is the concept of extended family that means

a family which extends beyond the nuclear family to include grandparents and other relatives.

This obviously can be much, much broader and is generationally indeterminate, encompassing all of the relatives listed in the question.

Having said all this, I am not aware of unambiguous terms that distinguish, without more context, between me, my sibs and parents and me, my squeeze and offspring.

  • +1 for thoroughness. I'd give another +1 for clever use of 'squeeze' if I could... Sep 19 '12 at 19:36

There is a specific term for the family into which you were born: family of origin. It has emerged in the mental health field, for example, here and here.

  • Redundant adjectives can imply they are no longer true - consider "my first husband" when you're still married to him - and whenever I hear "family of origin" it always has a connotation of "who I no longer consider to be my true family because I have a way better one now" Sep 19 '12 at 16:33
  • @KateGregory the term doesn't carry any implications for me (also I don't see any redundancy). What would you call the family in which you were raised?
    – JAM
    Sep 20 '12 at 4:40
  • I would either use a time marker (when I was growing up, my family...) or refer to the people (my parents and siblings) if I thought "my family" was ambiguous, which it often is. Sep 20 '12 at 10:48

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