ma·​tri·​lin·​eal | \ ˌma-trə-ˈli-nē-əl How to pronounce matrilineal (audio) , ˌmā-\

Definition of matrilineal

: relating to, based on, or tracing descent through the maternal line matrilineal society

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Other Words from matrilineal

matrilineally \ ˌma-​trə-​ˈli-​nē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce matrilineally (audio) , ˌmā-​ \ adverb

Did You Know?

A person's lineage is his or her line of ancestors. So matrilineal means basically "through the mother's line", just as patrilineal means "through the father's line". Matrilineality is an important concept in anthropology; among other things, it usually determines who will inherit property on a person's death. Though families that follow the European model take the father's name and are therefore patrilineal, matrilineal societies have existed around the world, including among various American Indian tribes.

Examples of matrilineal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Not your mother’s business A study compared patriarchal and matrilineal tribes in Bangladesh with respect to entrepreneurship. Kevin Lewis,, "Getting to know your opponent," 4 May 2018 However, the situation was completely reversed — with women being more entrepreneurial — in the matrilineal tribes. Kevin Lewis,, "Getting to know your opponent," 4 May 2018 Asante culture is matrilineal, with property transmitted through the female line. Susan Delson, WSJ, "In Dallas, the Golden Legacy of Ghana," 12 Apr. 2018 According to New Georgia Encyclopedia, Musgrove was a member of the Wind Clan, a matrilineal society in which children took the clan identities of their mothers. Atlanta Life, ajc, "Mary Musgrove: Liaison between colonial Georgia and native community," 5 Mar. 2018 As the head of the household, or dabu, 80-year-old Ku Mu is the undisputed boss, in line with the traditions of the Mosuo, said to be the last matrilineal society in China and one of few left in the world. Jason Motlagh, Marie Claire, "Kingdom of Women," 18 Jan. 2018 Since the Mandis are matrilineal, the idea that a man should marry a widow and her daughter is designed to safeguard the property-owning female lineages of both sides of the family. Abigail Haworth, Marie Claire, "My Mom and I Share the Same Husband," 28 May 2015 Maoxian county is largely inhabited by members of the small Qiang ethnic group, a matrilineal society known for building watchtowers and rope bridges in their mountainous lands, as well as for dancing and colorful costumes. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "More than 140 feared buried as landslide destroys village in southwest China," 24 June 2017 More distant or complicated searches for ancestors require either a Y-DNA kit, which tests the patrilineal line, or a mitochondrial or mtDNA kit, which tests the matrilineal line. Wendy Fawthrop, Orange County Register, "What can a DNA kit tell you? A CSUF expert has some answers," 3 May 2017

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

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First Known Use of matrilineal

1904, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for matrilineal

The first known use of matrilineal was in 1904

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More Definitions for matrilineal


ma·​tri·​lin·​eal | \ ˌma-trə-ˈlin-ē-əl How to pronounce matrilineal (audio) , ˌmā- How to pronounce matrilineal (audio) \

Medical Definition of matrilineal

: relating to, based on, or tracing descent through the maternal line a matrilineal society

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