: a Celtic group especially in the Scottish Highlands comprising a number of households whose heads claim descent from a common ancestor
the MacDonald clan
: a group of people tracing descent from a common ancestor : family
The whole clan gets together for the holidays.
: a group united by a common interest or common characteristics
the country club clan

Example Sentences

The tribe is divided into clans. The whole clan gets together for the holidays.
Recent Examples on the Web Should a member of this clan gain power following Putin, the results could be devastating. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 2 June 2023 Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg News President Joe Biden enjoys strong support among members of the Kennedy family, and perhaps especially among those members of the Kennedy clan who work for him. James Freeman, WSJ, 30 May 2023 The Parambil clan is part of a long-existing Christian community. Denise Davidson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 May 2023 The entire James clan – dad LeBron, mom Savannah, brother Bryce, sister Zhuri and grandma Gloria – were all on hand for Bronny James' graduation. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, 27 May 2023 Nearly 50 years after the show wrapped, the Studio City home where Carol, Mike, and their clan of six kids once lived is up for grabs. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 25 May 2023 As of 2015, there were nearly 11 million Kims in Korea — almost 1 of every 5 Korean nationals — divided into clans based on geographical region. Globe Staff,, 16 May 2023 Not my whole culture, but with this specific clan and their laws and the Gypsy laws. The Foretold Team, Los Angeles Times, 16 May 2023 The Somali government has been resupplying the clan militias with ammunition and other aid. Eric Schmitt Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi, New York Times, 27 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Scottish Gaelic clann offspring, clan, from Old Irish cland plant, offspring, from Latin planta plant

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of clan was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near clan

Cite this Entry

“Clan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a group (as in the Scottish Highlands) made up of households whose heads claim to have a common ancestor
: a group of people having a common ancestor : family
: a group of persons united by a common interest
the whole clan of actors

More from Merriam-Webster on clan

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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