: a Roman clan embracing the families of the same stock in the male line with the members having a common name and worshipping a common ancestor
: clan
especially : a patrilineal clan
: a distinguishable group of related organisms

Examples of gens in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Otherwise, expect to land somewhere between $20,000 and $75,000, with lower-mileage second-gens toward the high end of that range. James Tate, Car and Driver, 30 Dec. 2022 In fact, the elite patrician gens Claudia even had paternal Sabine ancestry. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 6 Feb. 2013 Plus; iPhone X; iPad 5; iPad 6; iPad 7; iPad Pro (1st and 2nd gens). José Adorno, BGR, 15 Dec. 2022 Social media forums are giving now-young-adult first-gens the opportunity to celebrate their culture and become the faces of the trends their ancestors started. Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News, 8 Dec. 2022 Next-gens tend to integrate philanthropy into all aspects of their lives. Shelley Hoss, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021

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

Word History


borrowed from Latin gent-, gens literally, "group of the same ancestry, people, nation," going back to Indo-European *ǵenh1-ti- "offspring," derivative of *ǵenh1- "engender, be born" — more at kin entry 1

Note: The loss of the reflex of the laryngeal in gent-, gens, as opposed to genitor "father, creator" (see progenitor) presumably suggests that the word is a relatively recent formation, as observed already by A. Ernout and A. Meillet (Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine, 4. édition, 1979). Compare Latin nātiō "birth, race, nationality" (see nation), from *ǵn̥h1-ti-, an alternative zero-grade derivative with the suffix *-ti-.

First Known Use

1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gens was in 1846

Dictionary Entries Near gens

Cite this Entry

“Gens.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gens. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

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