trib·​al·​ism | \ ˈtrī-bə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce tribalism (audio) \

Definition of tribalism

1 : tribal consciousness and loyalty especially : exaltation of the tribe above other groups
2 : strong in-group loyalty

Examples of tribalism in a Sentence

Tribalism within the group is strong. the corrupting influence of tribalism
Recent Examples on the Web Wouldn’t our culture be healthier if Democrats had not chosen tribalism over principle? Mona Charen, National Review, "Impeachment for Thee but Not for Me," 1 Nov. 2019 The problem is that our ever more ferocious political tribalism and mutual hatred don’t originate in politics, so politics isn’t going to heal them. Ben Sasse, WSJ, "Politics Can’t Solve Our Political Problems," 12 Oct. 2018 There’s a general frustration that, in the 21st century, this big and powerful country cannot pull away from its most regressive roots — and its hardest prejudices and its destructive tribalism — to solve our toughest problems. Dan Rodricks,, "Where have you gone, Mister Rogers?," 13 July 2018 Multiculturalism has reduced the idea of e pluribus unum to a regressive tribalism. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Death of American Citizenship," 26 Sep. 2019 The transcripts make for instructive—and deflating—reading, underscoring just how much partisanship and tribalism has distorted our politics in the nearly half century since Watergate. Michael Luo, The New Yorker, "What House Republicans Can Learn from the Bipartisan Effort to Impeach Nixon," 7 Nov. 2019 What if rival tribalisms are largely untethered from ideologies? George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: Weak political parties smooth the way for demagogues," 27 Oct. 2019 Sports represent an escape, an identity, a modern form of tribalism. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: NBA did in China what pretty much every other U.S. business has: It kowtowed," 7 Oct. 2019 Political tribalism, however, has been around for as long as there has been politics—which is to say, going all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, WSJ, "Truth Isn’t the Problem—We Are," 15 Mar. 2018

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

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of tribalism was in 1861

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Statistics for tribalism

Last Updated

4 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tribalism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for tribalism


How to pronounce tribalism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tribalism

often disapproving : loyalty to a tribe or other social group especially when combined with strong negative feelings for people outside the group

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More from Merriam-Webster on tribalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tribalism

Nglish: Translation of tribalism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tribalism for Arabic Speakers

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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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