From BiblePortal Wikipedia

King James Dictionary [1]

FAMIL'IAR, a. famil'yar. L. familiaris, familia, family, which see.

1. Pertaining to a family domestic. 2. Accustomed by frequent converse well acquainted with intimate close as a familiar friend or companion. 3. Affable not formal or distant easy in conversation.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

4. Well acquainted with knowing by frequent use. Be familiar with the scriptures. 5. Well known learned or well understood by frequent use. Let the scriptures be familiar to us. 6. Unceremonious free unconstrained easy. The emperor conversed with the gentleman in the most familiar manner. 7. Common frequent and intimate. By familiar intercourse, strong attachments are soon formed. 8. Easy unconstrained not formal. His letters are written in a familiar style.

He sports in loose familiar strains.

9. Intimate in an unlawful degree.

A poor man found a priest familiar with his wife.


1. An intimate a close companion one long acquainted one accustomed to another by free, unreserved converse.

All my familiars watched for my halting.  Jeremiah 20 .

2. A demon or evil spirit supposed to attend at a call. But in general we say, a familiar spirit. 3. In the court of Inquisition, a person who assists in apprehending and imprisoning the accused.

Webster's Dictionary [2]

(1): ( n.) An intimate; a companion.

(2): ( a.) Of or pertaining to a family; domestic.

(3): ( a.) Closely acquainted or intimate, as a friend or companion; well versed in, as any subject of study; as, familiar with the Scriptures.

(4): ( a.) Characterized by, or exhibiting, the manner of an intimate friend; not formal; unconstrained; easy; accessible.

(5): ( a.) Well known; well understood; common; frequent; as, a familiar illustration.

(6): ( a.) Improperly acquainted; wrongly intimate.

(7): ( n.) An attendant demon or evil spirit.

(8): ( n.) A confidential officer employed in the service of the tribunal, especially in apprehending and imprisoning the accused.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [3]

 1 Samuel 28:7 (a) It was generally thought that certain witches, necromancers, soothsayers, magicians and astrologers were in intimate association with certain spirits in the other world. This group of people taught that those with whom they communicated in the other world would listen to their call and come back to earth with a message. These folk claimed to be able to reach out into eternity and call for the appearance of anyone they desired. It was a devilish program which was condemned severely by GOD. The Lord said, "Should the living seek to the dead?"  Isaiah 8:19. We cannot be on familiar terms with anyone who has died except our Lord Jesus Christ for He came back from the dead and called on us to have fellowship with Him.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Familiar . The expression ‘familiar spirit’ was taken into the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] from the Geneva Version, as the trans. of Heb. ’obh . See Magic, etc. The word is also used as a subst. in   Jeremiah 20:10 ‘All my familiars watched for my halting’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘familiar friends,’ Heb. ‘men of my place’).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [5]

fa - mil´yar  : Is found as an adjective qualifying "friend" and "spirit."

(1) Used, in a number of Old Testament passages, of spirits which were supposed to come at the call of one who had power over them. אוב , 'ōbh , literally, something "hollow"; compare אוב , 'ōbh , "bottle" ( Job 32:19 the King James Version); because the voice of the spirit might have been supposed to come from the one possessed, as from a bottle, or because of the hollow sound which characterized the utterance, as out of the ground (  Isaiah 29:4 ); or, as some have conjectured, akin to אוּב , 'ūbh , "return" (νεκρόμαντις , nekrómantis ). Probably called "familiar" because it was regarded as a servant ( famulus ), belonging to the family ( familiaris ), who might be summoned to do the commands of the one possessing it. The practice of consulting familiar spirits was forbidden by the Mosaic law ( Leviticus 19:31;  Leviticus 20:6 ,  Leviticus 20:27;  Deuteronomy 18:11 ). King Saul put this away early in his reign, but consulted the witch of Endor, who "had a familiar spirit" ( 1 Samuel 28:3 ,  1 Samuel 28:7 ,  1 Samuel 28:8 ,  1 Samuel 28:9;  1 Chronicles 10:13 ). King Manasseh fell into the same sin ( 2 Kings 21:6;  2 Chronicles 33:6 ); but Josiah put those who dealt with familiar spirits out of the land ( 2 Kings 23:24 ).

It seems probable, however, that the practice prevailed more or less among the people till the exile ( Isaiah 8:19;  Isaiah 19:3 ). See "Divination by the 'Ôb " in Expository Times , IX, 157; Astrology , 1; Communion With Demons .

(2) "Familiars," "familiar friend," from ידע , yādha‛ , "to know," hence, "acquaintance," one intimately attached ( Job 19:14 ); but more frequently of 'ĕnōsh shālōm , "man of (my or thy) peace," that is, one to whom the salutation of peace is given ( Psalm 41:9;  Jeremiah 20:10;  Jeremiah 38:22; also in  Obadiah 1:7 , rendered "the men that were at peace with thee").