tanistry

noun
tan·​ist·​ry | \ -trē\
variants: or tanistria \ taˈnistrēə , thȯˈn-​ \
plural tanistries or tanistrias

Definition of tanistry

: an early Irish law of succession by which the heir or successor of a chief or king is appointed during the lifetime of the reigning chief, is not necessarily his oldest son, is generally the worthiest and wisest of the male relatives of the chief, and is elected by the people from among the eligible candidates but because of resultant bloody wars and feuds between families declared illegal by a decision of the AngloIrish judges in the first year of James I

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

History and Etymology for tanistry

tanistry from tanist + -ry; tanistria from New Latin, from tanista tanist (from Irish Gaelic tānaiste), after English tanist : tanistry

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tanistry

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

WORD OF THE DAY

recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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