\ ˈtrīb How to pronounce tribe (audio) \
plural tribes

Definition of tribe

1a : a social group composed chiefly of numerous families, clans, or generations having a shared ancestry and language
b : a political division of the Roman people originally representing one of the three original tribes of ancient Rome
c : phyle
2 : a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest
3 : a category of taxonomic classification ranking below a subfamily also : a natural group irrespective of taxonomic rank the cat tribe the rose tribe

Examples of tribe in a Sentence

a tribe of artists with wild hair and casual manners the wedding joined the two tribes together
Recent Examples on the Web Each Native American tribe has its own individual styles of music, dance, storytelling and visual arts. Laura Latzko, The Arizona Republic, 16 Nov. 2021 Each dance style in the show is unique to a different tribe, and the showcase does a good job of explaining their origin stories. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 10 Nov. 2021 Michelle Yeoh will feature as Scían, the last of a nomadic tribe of sword-elves on a mission to retrieve a blade stolen from her people. Nick Romano,, 8 Nov. 2021 The Ijaws, a minority tribe in Nigeria's multi-ethnic federation, now dominate the land of the Oloibiri, who once grew and sold the region's most important cash crop, palm oil. Zenger News, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 Members of a North American Plains tribe, for example, were foragers and herders for most of the year, with very lax discipline both at home and toward tribal leaders. George Scialabba, The New Republic, 1 Nov. 2021 About a hundred years ago the runt of a Sioux tribe breathed his visions on his people. Rolling Stone, 31 Oct. 2021 Nimmi is a twentysomething nomadic woman — originally part of a Himalayan nomadic tribe that migrates up and down the mountains with their sheep, goat and water buffalo. Denise Davidson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Oct. 2021 Why wasn’t Cleveland able to form a similar type of relationship with a Native American tribe? Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 27 Oct. 2021

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

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

History and Etymology for tribe

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

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Time Traveler for tribe

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tribe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for tribe



English Language Learners Definition of tribe

: a group of people that includes many families and relatives who have the same language, customs, and beliefs
: a large family
: a group of people who have the same job or interest


\ ˈtrīb How to pronounce tribe (audio) \

Kids Definition of tribe

1 : a group of people including many families, clans, or generations a Cherokee tribe
2 : a group of people who are of the same kind or have the same occupation or interest


\ ˈtrīb How to pronounce tribe (audio) \

Medical Definition of tribe

: 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

Nglish: Translation of tribe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tribe for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about tribe


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