plural tribes
: a social group composed chiefly of numerous families, clans, or generations having a shared ancestry and language
: a political division of the Roman people originally representing one of the three original tribes of ancient Rome
: phyle
: a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest
: a category of taxonomic classification ranking below a subfamily
also : a natural group irrespective of taxonomic rank
the cat tribe
the rose tribe

Example Sentences

a tribe of artists with wild hair and casual manners the wedding joined the two tribes together
Recent Examples on the Web Barry’s casually exquisite prose, capable of lyrical expansion but always firmly rooted in the dialect of the tribe, seems to capture them all. Giles Harvey, The New Yorker, 20 Mar. 2023 The Soka tribe on 'Survivor 44' | Credit: Robert Voets/CBS Survivor can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Dalton Ross,, 16 Mar. 2023 The Native American tribe barricading dozens of Wisconsin families in their homes over a legal dispute regarding road infrastructure has accepted hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding. Thomas Catenacci, Fox News, 11 Mar. 2023 Leggett is also the president of the Native Village of Eklutna, the only tribe within what is now Anchorage’s city limits, and perhaps the most impacted by the rise of the railroad. Jenna Kunze, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Mar. 2023 Her position as the Dr. Susan and Susette La Flesche Professor of American Indian Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center is named for two sisters from the Omaha tribe, Susan and Susette La Flesche. Judi Ketteler, Good Housekeeping, 7 Mar. 2023 Harry Wallace, chief of the Unkechaug Nation, a Native American tribe from Long Island, was there, too. Winston Choi-schagrin, New York Times, 28 Feb. 2023 Harry Wallace, chief of the Unkechaug Nation, a Native American tribe from Long Island, was there, too. Tracey Tully,, 28 Feb. 2023 Among the words: webmaster, tribe, brown bag lunch. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Feb. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Latin tribus, a division of the Roman people, tribe

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of tribe was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near tribe

Cite this Entry

“Tribe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a social group made up of many families, clans, or generations that share the same language, customs, and beliefs
: a group of persons with a common character, occupation, or interest
: a group of related plants or animals

Medical Definition


: a category of taxonomic classification sometimes equivalent to or ranking just below a suborder but more commonly ranking below a subfamily

More from Merriam-Webster on tribe

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