• synonyms


[trahy-buh-liz-uh m]
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  1. the customs and beliefs of tribal life and society.
  2. strong loyalty to one's own tribe, party, or group.
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Origin of tribalism

First recorded in 1885–90; tribal + -ism
Related formstrib·al·ist, nountri·bal·is·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tribalism

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Christianity was the first expression of world religion, the first complete repudiation of tribalism and war and disputation.

    The World Set Free

    Herbert George Wells

  • But the Celtic state did not emerge from tribalism in Britain; the Celtic heroes were always tribal heroes.

  • Treitschke is the prophet of tribalism, Nietzsche of ruthlessness, Bernhardi of ambition.

  • A strange compound of feudalism with tribalism ensued, in the shape of mongrel chieftaincies, henceforth the predominant powers.

British Dictionary definitions for tribalism


  1. the state of existing as a separate tribe or tribes
  2. the customs and beliefs of a tribal society
  3. loyalty to a tribe or tribal values
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Derived Formstribalist, noun, adjectivetribalistic, adjective
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

Word Origin and History for tribalism


1886, "condition of being a tribe," from tribal + -ism. Meaning "group loyalty" attested by 1955.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper