Definition of matrilineal
: relating to, based on, or tracing descent through the maternal line matrilineal society
matrilineallyplay \-nē-ə-lē\ adverb
Recent Examples of matrilineal from the Web
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.
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.
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.
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.
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