trib·​al | \ ˈtrī-bəl How to pronounce tribal (audio) \

Definition of tribal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or characteristic of a tribe tribal customs



Definition of tribal (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from tribal


tribally \ ˈtrī-​bə-​lē How to pronounce tribally (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for tribal

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of tribal in a Sentence

Adjective a tribal solidarity that transcends all other loyalties or bonds
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The entire park is located on Navajo tribal land, and 40 Navajo families still reside in the canyon. Washington Post, "Take a tour of this canyon for a less-crowded, more in-depth experience than at Mesa Verde," 14 Sep. 2019 Some of the federal money is expected to be used for that purpose, particularly on tribal lands, which already get some dollars from the federal government to support an independent law enforcement system and courts. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, "Justice Department Will Fund More Prosecutors, Jails and Cops in Rural Alaska," 13 Sep. 2019 State foster care administrator Dean Sturn says until the new agreement, tribes could license foster care parents only on tribal lands. USA TODAY, "Animation behind bars, Elliott the elk, SkyStar: News from around our 50 states," 10 Sep. 2019 The number of cities, counties, communities and tribal lands suing drug maker Purdue Pharma. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for August 28: Jeffrey Epstein, immigration, Dorian, VA, Amazon," 28 Aug. 2019 For tribal members who live in the reserves, Aguiar said, mining has brought violence, disease and destruction. Washington Post, "Illegal miners, feeling betrayed, call on Bolsonaro to end environmental crackdown in Amazon," 12 Sep. 2019 But the Navajo Nation argued in its lawsuit that county recorders still handled problems with early ballots inconsistently, leaving the votes of some tribal members uncounted. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Arizona voters who don't sign early ballots will get a second chance under settlement," 12 Sep. 2019 Still staking out the land in southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, the majority of our tribal members are now some form of Southern Baptist, a direct result of what the English government sought some 300 years ago. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "IT: Chapter Two and the Great American Tradition of Selling Native Spirituality," 16 Sep. 2019 Native tribal members and other advocates have taken offense at Norton’s larger-than-life-size depictions of pioneering white explorers, religious leaders and laborers standing over blacks and Native Americans in more subservient roles. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Historical society hosts competition for rotating replacements for St. Paul City Council’s controversial wall art," 8 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ever since the rechristening, Attappadi’s tribals have been protesting through meetings and sloganeering. K A Shaji, Quartz India, "Tribals in India’s Kerala are protesting against a Hindu name given to a captured elephant," 30 Aug. 2019 The boys can’t really be faulted for not being able to decipher the words of the song—because the movement, and its anthem, is meant to be pan-tribal, to inspire unity among Native nations, most renditions of the song do not translate it into words. Rebecca Bengal, Vogue, "The Power of Nathan Phillips’s Song," 21 Jan. 2019 Indeed, all the angry tribals are asking is that the government respect its own laws and undertakings. The Economist, "Stone-carving villagers make Indian officials jittery," 7 June 2018 Some tribals are Hindu and others Christian, but many persist in forms of worship that predate both religions—such as erecting large stones to mark undertakings of great significance. The Economist, "Stone-carving villagers make Indian officials jittery," 7 June 2018 At tribal, Bradley spoke highly of how great everyone at Naviti has been getting along; that got some eye rolls. Rasputin Todd,, "Who was voted off 'Survivor' this week? (April 4) Did Mason's Angela Perkins advance?," 4 Apr. 2018 At Ghost Island, Kellyn was offered a 50/50 chance at a secret advantage but declined as there was also a 50/50 chance at losing her vote in the next tribal. Rasputin Todd,, "Who was voted off 'Survivor' this week? (April 25) Did Mason's Angela Perkins advance?," 25 Apr. 2018 But tribalism ultimately couldn’t save Pruitt from himself Being openly tribal has served Scott Pruitt well so far in his career, earning him the iron-clad support of industry, the far right, and Donald Trump alike. David Roberts, Vox, "Tribalism fueled Scott Pruitt’s rise to power — and the scandals that came with it," 5 July 2018 At Ghost Island, Kellyn was offered a 50/50 chance at a secret advantage but declined as there was also a 50/50 chance at losing her vote in the next tribal. Rasputin Todd,, "Who was voted off 'Survivor' this week? (April 25) Did Mason's Angela Perkins advance?," 25 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tribal.' 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 tribal


1632, in the meaning defined above


1953, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for tribal

Last Updated

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for tribal

The first known use of tribal was in 1632

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More Definitions for tribal


How to pronounce tribal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tribal

: of or relating to a tribe or tribes


trib·​al | \ ˈtrī-bəl How to pronounce tribal (audio) \

Kids Definition of tribal

: relating to a tribe a tribal custom

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More from Merriam-Webster on tribal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tribal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tribal

Spanish Central: Translation of tribal

Nglish: Translation of tribal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tribal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tribal

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an agreement to stop fighting a war

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