1 of 2


trib·​al ˈtrī-bəl How to pronounce tribal (audio)
: of, relating to, or characteristic of a tribe
tribal customs
tribally adverb


2 of 2


: a member of an aboriginal people of India
usually used in plural

Examples of tribal in a Sentence

Adjective a tribal solidarity that transcends all other loyalties or bonds
Recent Examples on the Web
Darfur’s Arab tribes ruled the land, raiding with impunity, fighting each other and the militias over tribal boundaries and—most important—over who got to control the region’s lucrative gold mines. Alex De Waal, Foreign Affairs, 18 Sep. 2023 Horace would go on to serve as the tribal chief and the nonvoting Penobscot representative in the State Legislature. Will Dudding, New York Times, 14 Sep. 2023 Medium Build’s Nick Carpenter and Christopherson will also perform a benefit concert Friday night in Anchorage to raise money for a tribal school in Wainwright. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Sep. 2023 Also complicating the availability of detailed tribal census data are new population thresholds by the Census Bureau. Mike Schneider and Morgan Lee,, 9 Sep. 2023 When the Ojibwe were forced to cede much of their Wisconsin territory to the United States in the 1800s and move onto reservations, the tribal leaders at the time chose places that had significant wild rice beds. Frank Vaisvilas, Journal Sentinel, 7 Sep. 2023 In attendance, gathered in a stone and timber building, were tribal members, agency officials, missionaries and traders. Richard Grant, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Sep. 2023 According to the Pashtun tribal tradition, though, women have no such right. Ross McDonnell, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2023 Haaland said a few dozen tribal communities rely on the petroleum reserve to harvest caribou, birds and fish. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Sep. 2023
The 74-page compact, negotiated between DeSantis and Marcellus W. Osceola Jr., chairman of the Seminole tribal, provides the tribe with exclusive rights to a wide array of casino and sports gambling in exchange for billions of dollars in payments to the state. Washington Post, 19 May 2021 The tribal began Monday in Austin, Texas — where Jones lives and broadcasts his show — following months of delays. Jim Vertuno, Hartford Courant, 27 July 2022 State, tribal and community leaders have worked together to ensure Westwater will be connected to an electrical grid next month. The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Mar. 2022 The next day Deshawn, Erika, and Xander head to the final tribal. Joseph Longo, Vulture, 17 Dec. 2021 The figure accounts for all line-of-duty deaths through Dec. 31, 2021, and represents law enforcement officers at the federal, state, county and municipal levels, as well as those in the tribal, campus, military and territorial sectors. Audrey Conklin, Fox News, 14 Jan. 2022 Meanwhile, Erika’s superb performance at the final tribal mirrored her gameplay. Joseph Longo, Vulture, 17 Dec. 2021 My lowest moment in the game actually provided me the most healing outside of the game, and that was my breakdown at the final seven tribal. Dalton Ross,, 15 Dec. 2021 And who knows what’s going to happen once the Luvu tribe breaks up and heads to tribal. Joseph Longo, Vulture, 20 Oct. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tribal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1632, in the meaning defined above


1953, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tribal was in 1632

Dictionary Entries Near tribal

Cite this Entry

“Tribal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: of, relating to, or characteristic of a tribe

More from Merriam-Webster on tribal

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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