: a Celtic group especially in the Scottish Highlands comprising a number of households whose heads claim descent from a common ancestor
the MacDonald clan
: a group of people tracing descent from a common ancestor : family
The whole clan gets together for the holidays.
: a group united by a common interest or common characteristics
the country club clan

Example Sentences

The tribe is divided into clans. The whole clan gets together for the holidays.
Recent Examples on the Web This is most apparent when watching Thomas interact with his family, a clan of nonbelievers. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Mar. 2023 The boutique hotel is already a favorite of other celebrities including Gigi Hadid, Mandy Moore and the Kardashian-Jenner clan. Hannah Chubb, Peoplemag, 10 Feb. 2023 The Metkayina Reef Home Lego set, as the name suggests, features a Metkayina clan home in Pandora's reefs. Sarah Toscano,, 20 Jan. 2023 The most lavish creation being the reef village of Awa'atlu, home to the Metkayina clan, led by wife and husband Ronal (Kate Winslet) and Tonowari (Cliff Curtis). Daron James, Los Angeles Times, 2 Jan. 2023 Highly intelligent and deeply emotional, the tulkun are an integral part of the lives of the Metkayina clan. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 22 Dec. 2022 In The Way of Water’s second act, the Sully family flees their forest home and asks the reef-dwelling Metkayina clan to shelter them. Chris Klimek, Vulture, 16 Dec. 2022 In the eye-popping sci-fi epic, Winslet plays the sagacious Ronal, an alien queen and healer who leads the oceanic Metkayina clan. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 16 Dec. 2022 The Sullys flee the forest and floating mountains to an oceanside community presided over by Metkayina clan, headed up by Ronal (Kate Winslet) and Tonowari (Cliff Curtis). Joey Morona, cleveland, 13 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clan.' 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 Scottish Gaelic clann offspring, clan, from Old Irish cland plant, offspring, from Latin planta plant

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of clan was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near clan

Cite this Entry

“Clan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a group (as in the Scottish Highlands) made up of households whose heads claim to have a common ancestor
: a group of people having a common ancestor : family
: a group of persons united by a common interest
the whole clan of actors

More from Merriam-Webster on clan

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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