\ˈjenz, ˈgen(t)s \
plural gentes\ˈjen-ˌtēz, ˈgen-ˌtās \

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

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gens

Statistics for gens

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gens

The first known use of gens was in 1846

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on gens

See words that rhyme with gens

Comments on gens

What made you want to look up gens? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!