trib·​al·​ism | \ˈtrī-bə-ˌli-zəm \

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

Rather, colleges and universities inculcate the practices and spirit of the tribalism that disfigures American politics. Peter Berkowitz, WSJ, "Conservatism and Populism Go Back Centuries," 6 Nov. 2018 Only recently have many in this country begun to appraise the extent of the tribalism at home. Laila Lalami, New York Times, "Does American ‘Tribalism’ End in a Compromise, or a Fight?," 26 June 2018 In Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations, Amy Chua covers the rampant tribalism that has thrived both in American politics and globally. Emily Heller, Vox, "5 books making the case that American democracy is in trouble," 23 Apr. 2018 That has protected it from scandals over fake news, electoral manipulation and political tribalism. The Economist, "Can Netflix please investors and still avoid the techlash?," 28 June 2018 Our political system — incapacitated by tribalism — has been incapable of addressing the intensifying problem since the Bush administration. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "If We Want to End the Border Crisis, It’s Time to Give Trump His Wall," 22 June 2018 This bias is a dangerous new twist in the tribalism and political dysfunction that is poisoning politics in Washington. The Economist, "American democracy’s built-in bias towards rural Republicans," 12 July 2018 The dominant culture today is tribalism and bitter partisanship. Amanda Paulson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why these young Republicans see hope in climate action," 28 June 2018 The hegemony of white landowners prompted few, if any, complaints about tribalism in the national conversation. Laila Lalami, New York Times, "Does American ‘Tribalism’ End in a Compromise, or a Fight?," 26 June 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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Statistics for tribalism

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for tribalism

The first known use of tribalism was in 1861

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English Language Learners Definition of tribalism

: 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

Comments on tribalism

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living or existing for a long time

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