noun \ˈklan\

: a large group of people who are related

: a large family

: a group of people who are similar or who are interested in the same thing

Full Definition of CLAN

a :  a Celtic group especially in the Scottish Highlands comprising a number of households whose heads claim descent from a common ancestor
b :  a group of people tracing descent from a common ancestor :  family
:  a group united by a common interest or common characteristics

Examples of CLAN

  1. The tribe is divided into clans.
  2. The whole clan gets together for the holidays.

Origin of CLAN

Middle English, from Scottish Gaelic clann offspring, clan, from Old Irish cland plant, offspring, from Latin planta plant
First Known Use: 15th century

Other Anthropology Terms

ectomorph, ethnography, prehistory, yurt

Rhymes with CLAN


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Kinship group based on actual or purported descent from a common ancestor, as traced through the male (patriclan) or the female (matriclan) line. Clans are normally exogamous, marriage within the clan being regarded as incest. Clans may segment into subclans or lineages, and genealogical records and myths may be altered to incorporate new members who lack kinship ties with the clan. Clan membership may be useful in ensuring mutual support and defense as well as in the mediation of disputes over property rights and the mode of residence after marriage. Some clans express their unity by means of a common emblem. See also exogamy and endogamy.


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