\ ˈjenz How to pronounce gens (audio) , ˈgen(t)s How to pronounce gens (audio) \
plural gentes\ ˈjen-​ˌtēz How to pronounce gens (audio) , ˈgen-​ˌtās How to pronounce gens (audio) \

Definition of gens

1 : 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
2 : clan especially : a patrilineal clan
3 : a distinguishable group of related organisms

Examples of gens in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Next-gens tend to integrate philanthropy into all aspects of their lives. Shelley Hoss, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gens.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of gens

1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gens

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-.

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Dictionary Entries Near gens



gens d'église

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Cite this Entry

“Gens.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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