AskDefine | Define household

Dictionary Definition

household n : a social unit living together; "he moved his family to Virginia"; "It was a good Christian household"; "I waited until the whole house was asleep"; "the teacher asked how many people made up his home" [syn: family, house, home, menage]

User Contributed Dictionary



house + hold


  • a UK: /ˈhaʊshəʊld/, /"haUsh@Uld/
  • a US: , /ˈhaʊshoʊld/, /"haUshoUld/


  1. In the context of "obsolete": A line of ancestry.
  2. Those living in the same residence, comprising a family.
  3. Those living in the same residence, consisting of an individual or family along with any servants, guests, lodgers, etc.
  4. In taxation, all the persons who live in the same individual residence.

Usage notes

The meanings of the noun referring to those living in the same residence are similar in wording, but substantially different in meaning. The first definition was the former meaning, expanded in the mid-20th century. Ample context should be provided to distinguish which meaning is intended, or your readers will assume their own preferred meaning.


line of ancestry
those living in the same residence, comprising a family
those living in the same residence, consisting of an individual or family along with any servants, etc
in taxation, all the persons who live in the same individual residence


  1. Belonging to the same house and family.
  2. Of anything found in or having its origin in a home.


beloning to same house and family
found in or having its origin in a home

Extensive Definition

The household is the basic unit of analysis in many microeconomic and government models. The term refers to all individuals who live in the same dwelling.
Most economic models do not address whether the members of a household are a family in the traditional sense. Government and policy discussions often treat the terms household and family as synonymous, especially in western societies where the nuclear family has become the most common family structure. In reality, there is not always a one-to-one relationship between households and families.

Government definitions

For statistical purposes in the United Kingdom, a household is defined as "one person or a group of people who have the accommodation as their only or main residence and for a group, either share at least one meal a day or share the living accommodation, that is, a living room or sitting room" National Statistics.
The United States Census definition similarly turns on "separate living quarters", i.e. "those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building" A householder in the U.S. census is the "person (or one of the people) in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented (maintained);" if no person qualifies, any adult resident of a housing unit is a householder. The U.S. government formerly used the term head of the household and head of the family to describe householders; beginning in 1980, these terms were officially dropped from the census and replaced with householder.
The official definition from is clearer:
"A household includes all the persons who occupy a housing unit. A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated persons who share living arrangements. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.)"

Economic theories

Most economic theories assume there is only one income stream to a household; this a useful simplification for modeling, but does not necessarily reflect reality. Many households now include multiple income-earning members.

Historical households

In feudal or aristocratic societies, a household may include servants or retainers, whether or not they are explicitly so named. Their roles may blur the line between a family member and an employee. In such cases, they ultimately derive their income from the household's principal income.


household in German: Privathaushalt
household in French: Ménage
household in Italian: Nucleo familiare
household in Hungarian: Háztartás
household in Dutch: Huishouden
household in Japanese: 世帯
household in Polish: Gospodarstwo domowe
household in Russian: Домашнее хозяйство
household in Ukrainian: Домашнє господарство

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Attic, accustomed, ancestral halls, average, brood, chaste, children, chimney corner, classic, classical, common, commonly known, commonplace, conventional, current, customary, domal, domestic, domiciliary, everyday, familiar, family, family homestead, fireplace, fireside, folks, foyer, garden, garden-variety, get, habitual, hackneyed, hearth, hearth and home, hearthstone, home, home place, home roof, home sweet home, homefolks, homely, homespun, homestead, house, ingle, inglenook, ingleside, issue, manorial, mansional, matter-of-fact, menage, nondescript, normative, notorious, offspring, ordinary, palatial, paternal roof, people, plain, platitudinous, popular, predominating, prescriptive, prevailing, prosaic, prosy, proverbial, public, pure, pure and simple, regular, regulation, residential, residentiary, roof, rooftree, simple, standard, stock, talked-about, talked-of, toft, trite, truistic, universal, universally admitted, universally recognized, usual, vernacular, well-kenned, well-known, well-recognized, well-understood, widely known, wonted, workaday, workday
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