any group of people, typically a subdivision of a nation or an ethnic group, that is united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, shared customs and traditions, recognition of the same leader or leaders, etc.; a group of related clans: The twelve tribes of Israel were descended from the twelve sons of Jacob.
Sometimes Offensive. a group of Indigenous people sharing the same ethnicity, language, territory, customs, history, etc.: now often referred to as a nation. : See Usage note at the current entry.
a division of any of the premodern peoples of Europe or Asia: After the Romans left the Low Countries in the 5th century, Frankish tribes dominated.In 1206 Genghis Khan united all the Mongol tribes to form the great Mongol nation.
a company, group, or number of people: Every afternoon a noisy tribe of children—friends of my brother and me—would gather in our yard.
a group or class of people with strong common traits, values, or interests: We in the tribe of journalists tend to be cynical about such conferences—they’re mainly about platitudes and photo ops.
a large family: Don't invite your brother and his tribe to sleep over—I don't know where we'd put all those kids!
a category or type of living things or inanimate objects: Next to the robin, the sparrow is the boldest of our feathered tribe.Over there is a tribe of mismatched stuffed chairs.
a category in the classification of organisms usually between a subfamily and a genus or sometimes between a suborder and a family.
any group of closely related plants or animals.
Animal Husbandry. a group of animals, especially cattle, descended through the female line from a common female ancestor.
any one of three divisions of the people representing the Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan settlements.
any of the later political divisions of the people.
Greek History. a phyle.
In some cases, however, the word tribe is still appropriate. For example, where a large Indigenous nation is spread over a wide area, different linguistic or cultural divisions or different geographic communities within that nation might refer to themselves as tribes: Louis Bull Tribe is part of the Cree nation, the largest First Nations group in Canada. This is especially true if the subgroup has its own political leadership and a legal relationship with the government, although in Canada such a local community is more often called a band. In the United States, an Indigenous group that has such a relationship with the federal or state government may be called a tribe regardless of whether it corresponds to a single ethnic group or a division of one, and band can refer to any of various kinds of subgroups. It is best to find out what term is used by the particular group to refer to itself. When speaking more generally of Indigenous groups, the word people ( peoples for multiple groups) is appropriate: the Indigenous peoples of the plains.
- sub·tribe, noun
- un·der·tribe, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024
How to use tribe in a sentence
Because of their traditional knowledge honed over millennia, “tribes are uniquely positioned to lead the way,” wrote University of Oregon researchers in an article at the Conversation.
As Americans increasingly identify themselves as members of warring tribes, they’re less likely to see virtue in any candidate from the other side and far more likely to vote a straight ticket.
The remaining two-thirds are run by tribes or locally elected school boards, which have greater freedom to craft reopening plans and purchase distance-learning equipment.The Federal Government Promised Native American Students Computers and Internet. Many Are Still Waiting. | by Alden Woods, Arizona Republic | September 28, 2020 | ProPublica
Here are the stories of some of the people who have found their tribe in BPI.
We, as a global tribe of travelers, need to understand the implications of our personal decisions right now—whether that’s attending a large gathering in a neighbor’s backyard or hopping on a Labor Day flight.This year’s top Labor Day destinations might surprise you | Rachel King | September 1, 2020 | Fortune
Some gay apps, like the newer Mister, have not subscribed to the community/tribe model.
“The tribe is really made of people who put travel as a priority in their entire lifestyle,” says Evita.‘We Out Here’: Inside the New Black Travel Movement | Charlise Ferguson | January 4, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
A running joke inside the tribe is that the group is like that club with a hundred people waiting outside to get in.‘We Out Here’: Inside the New Black Travel Movement | Charlise Ferguson | January 4, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
Tiger Lily and her tribe, however, were outfitted in semi-realistic outfits (read: nearly naked).‘Peter Pan Live!’ Review: No Amount of Clapping Brings It to Life | Kevin Fallon | December 5, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
As the bill failed in the Senate, a pigtailed member of the Lakota Sioux tribe stood up in the gallery and began chanting.Keystone Senate Failure Is Environmental Kabuki Theater | Ben Jacobs | November 19, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
"I bought them boots to wear only when I go into genteel society," said one of the codfish tribe, to a wag, the other day.The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun; | Various
This Isthmus has a circuit of fully five hundred leagues and is occupied by the Soriquois tribe.
They wage war as a tribe on account of wrongs done to a private individual.
Many of them however are of rude workmanship and might have been fashioned by some of the tribe unacquainted with pipe-making.Tobacco; Its History, Varieties, Culture, Manufacture and Commerce | E. R. Billings.
Shoals of tunny-fish, (fish four and five feet long, and belonging to the dolphin tribe,) were seen tumbling about the ship.A Woman's Journey Round the World | Ida Pfeiffer
British Dictionary definitions for tribe
a social division of a people, esp of a preliterate people, defined in terms of common descent, territory, culture, etc
(an ethnic or ancestral division of ancient cultures, esp of one of the following)
any of the three divisions of the ancient Romans, the Latins, Sabines, and Etruscans
one of the later political divisions of the Roman people
any of the 12 divisions of ancient Israel, each of which was named after and believed to be descended from one of the 12 patriarchs
a phyle of ancient Greece
informal, often jocular
a large number of persons, animals, etc
a specific class or group of persons
a family, esp a large one
biology a taxonomic group that is a subdivision of a subfamily
stockbreeding a strain of animals descended from a common female ancestor through the female line
- tribeless, 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