[ klan ]
See synonyms for clan on
  1. a group of families or households, as among the Scottish Highlanders, the heads of which claim descent from a common ancestor: the Mackenzie clan.

  2. a group of people of common descent; family: Our whole clan got together for Thanksgiving.

  1. a group of people, as a clique, set, society, or party, especially as united by some common trait, characteristic, or interest: a clan of actors and directors.

  2. Anthropology.

    • the principal social unit of tribal organization, in which descent is reckoned exclusively in either the paternal or the maternal line.

    • a group of people regarded as being descended from a common ancestor.

Origin of clan

1375–1425; late Middle English (Scots ) <Scots Gaelic clann<Old Irish cland offspring <Latin planta scion, plant, perhaps directly <British Celtic; compare Welsh plant children

Other words from clan

  • clanless, adjective
  • in·ter·clan, adjective
  • subclan, noun

Words Nearby clan Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use clan in a sentence

  • Mark out in your sand-box the boundary lines of the hunting ground of the Horse clan.

    The Later Cave-Men | Katharine Elizabeth Dopp
  • The strange clan always used it on their way to and from the lowland plains.

    The Later Cave-Men | Katharine Elizabeth Dopp
  • The strangers soon went away, and the Bison clan forgot about them.

    The Later Cave-Men | Katharine Elizabeth Dopp
  • The head man of the agricultural clan was elected by the free choice of his fellows, his equals in rank and station.

    Man And His Ancestor | Charles Morris
  • Western gamblers are legion—a reckless, money-plunging, romantic and venturesome yet an admittedly square-shooting clan.

British Dictionary definitions for clan


/ (klæn) /

  1. a group of people interrelated by ancestry or marriage

  2. a group of families with a common surname and a common ancestor, acknowledging the same leader, esp among the Scots and the Irish

  1. a group of people united by common characteristics, aims, or interests

Origin of clan

C14: from Scottish Gaelic clann family, descendants, from Latin planta sprout, plant 1

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012