Open main menu

Wiktionary β

See also: Gens and ġens



Etymology 1Edit

A bust of Marcus Aurelius (121–180 C.E.) found in Kandilli, Bilecik Province.[1] Marcus Aurelius, who was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 C.E., was from the gens Annia (sense 1) as indicated by his name during his early years – Marcus Annius Verus.

Borrowed from Latin gēns (gens; people, tribe), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵénh₁tis (birth; production), from *ǵenh₁- (to beget; to give birth; to produce) + *-tis (suffix forming abstract or action nouns from verb roots). See also gender, generate, gentile, genus.



gens (plural gentes or genses)

  1. (Ancient Rome, historical) A legally defined unit of Roman society, being a collection of people related through a common ancestor by birth, marriage or adoption, possibly over many generations, and sharing the same nomen gentilicium.
    • 1848, G[eorge] L[ong], “GENS”, in William Smith, editor, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 2nd improved and enlarged edition, London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly, Upper Gower Street; and Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row; John Murray, Albemarle Street, OCLC 246172110, pages 568 and 569:
      [page 568, column 2] There were certain sacred rites (sacra gentilitia) which belonged to a gens, to the observance of which all the members of a gens, as such, were bound, whether they were members by birth, adoption, or adrogation. A person was freed from the observance of such sacra, and lost the privileges connected with his gentile rites, when he lost his gens, that is, when he was adrogated, adopted, or even emancipated; for adrogation, adoption, and emancipation were accompanied by a diminutio capitis. [] [page 569, column 2] As the gentes were subdivisions of the three ancient tribes, the populus (in the ancient sense) alone had gentes, so that to be a patrician and to have a gens were synonymous; and thus we find the expressions gens and patricii constantly united.
    • 1987, Frances Gies; Joseph Gies, “Roots: Roman, German, Christian”, in Marriage and Family in the Middle Ages, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, →ISBN:
      Caius Julius Caesar belonged to the gens Julius, his father's name was Caesar, and his own individual name (praenomen) was Caius. Women were given the clan name as their own; Caesar's sister was called Julia, and a younger sister would have been called Julia Minor.
  2. (anthropology) A tribal subgroup whose members are characterized by having the same descent, usually along the male line.
    • 1877, Lewis H[enry] Morgan, “Organization of Society upon the Basis of Sex”, in Ancient Society: Or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization, New York, N.Y.: Henry Holt and Company, OCLC 5518778, part II (Growth of the Idea of Government), pages 51–52:
      The Kamilaroi are divided into six gentes, standing with reference to the right of marriage, in two divisions, [] Originally the first three gentes were not allowed to intermarry with each other, because they were subdivisions of an original gens; but they were permitted to marry into either of the other gentes, and vice versâ.
    • 1919, Boris Sidis, The Source and Aim of Human Progress, Boston, Mass.: Richard G. Badger, the Gorham Press, OCLC 1001637826, page 25:
      The taboos, the laws, the rules of gentes, tribes, and nations, from the lowest to the highest, are upheld by a vague terror and sacred awe which society impresses on man by threats of ill-luck, fearful evil, and terrible punishments befalling sinners and transgressors of the tabooed, of the holy and the forbidden, charged with a mysterious, highly contagious, and virulently infective life-consuming energy.
    • 2006, Dzemal Sokolovic, “Man (between Individualism and Totalitarianism)”, in Nation vs. People: Bosnia is Just a Case, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, →ISBN, part I (Man and Social Grouping), page 15:
      While a woman and a man [who are native Hawaiians] primarily establish a family, they nonetheless remain members of different genses, and it is only as members of different genses that they are able to set up the family. At the same time, the children belong to the family of their parents, but owing to the validity of their mother's side—exclusively, to the gens of their mother. Thus, the members of one and the same family, the closest blood-related community, are members of two different genses.
Usage notesEdit

Regarding sense 1 (“historical Roman unit of society”), the concept is close to and often translated as clan, but the two are not identical. The alternative tribe is also sometimes used, but the Latin tribus has a separate meaning.

  • (Roman unit of society): clan, tribe (but see the usage note)
Derived termsEdit
  • gentile (of or pertaining to a gens or several gentes)

Etymology 2Edit

Clipping of generations.




  1. plural of gen (clipping of generation).
    • 2004, Sally Bishai, “Courtship, Marriage and the Ubiquitous ‘Dating Thing’”, in Mid-East Meets West: On Being and Becoming a Modern Arab American, Lincoln, Neb.: iUniverse, →ISBN, page 57:
      For my fellow first-gens, get ready to hide a smirk, because your life story is likely hidden somewhere in this chapter. For the uninitiated—that is, the person who's never had a thing to do with the Arab way of doing things (namely dating)—I advise you to buckle up.
    • 2016, Dwight Lang, “Witnessing Social Class in the Academy”, in Allison L. Hurst and Sandi Kawecka Nenga, editors, Working in Class: Recognizing How Social Class Shapes Our Academic Work, Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, →ISBN, part 2 (Teaching), page 102:
      [] I witness firsthand the difficult "downstream" outcomes (Grusky 2014) of social class stratification in a university setting where approximately 3,400 undergraduates (13% of the undergraduate population) are first in their families to attend and/or graduate from college (first-gens). Most of these students are low income and nearly 1,200 first-gens have grown up in poverty.
    • 2017, Temple Fennell, “SCIE: Sustainable Cycle of Investing Engagement”, in Kirby Rosplock, The Complete Direct Investing Handbook: A Guide for Family Offices, Qualified Purchasers, and Accredited Investors (Bloomberg Financial Series), Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, →ISBN, page 242:
      The Family Values and Framing Strategy steps address soft issues as what is the purpose of the new investment strategy, is there a desire to engage and train the next generation (Next Gens), and is there building buy-in and engagement across the family members important to strengthen family unity.


  1. ^ Currently in the collection of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

Further readingEdit





  1. a bit
  2. a few
  3. not any



From an earlier gents, from Latin gentes, accusative plural of gēns.



gens m pl (plural only)

  1. set of people
    Ces gens-là ont toujours été sympas avec moi.
    Those people have always been kind to me.
    Je n’aime pas les gens qui se prennent pour le nombril du monde.
    I don't like people who think the world revolves around them.

Usage notesEdit

  • When gens is preceded by an attributive adjective which has a different feminine form, this adjective, along with any preceding determiner, is made feminine. However, adjectives after the noun remain masculine.
Toutes les bonnes gens heureux
Tous ces honnêtes gens

Related termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit


Latin Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia la


From Proto-Indo-European *ǵénh₁tis[1], from *ǵenh₁-. See also gignō, generō, genus. Cognate with English kind and Ancient Greek γένεσις (génesis), whence English genesis.



gēns f (genitive gentis); third declension

  1. Roman clan, related by birth or marriage and sharing a common name
  2. tribe; people, family
  3. the chief gods


Third declension i-stem.

Case Singular Plural
nominative gēns gentēs
genitive gentis gentium
dative gentī gentibus
accusative gentem gentēs
ablative gente gentibus
vocative gēns gentēs

Derived termsEdit



  • gens in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • gens in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • gens in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition, 1883–1887)
  • gens in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • the territory of this race extends as far as the Rhine: haec gens pertinet usque ad Rhenum
    • to civilise men, a nation: homines, gentem a fera agrestique vita ad humanum cultum civilemque deducere (De Or. 1. 8. 33)
    • universal history: omnis memoria, omnis memoria aetatum, temporum, civitatum or omnium rerum, gentium, temporum, saeculorum memoria
    • to violate the law of nations: ius gentium violare
    • to completely annihilate a nation: gentem ad internecionem redigere or adducere (B. G. 2. 28)
  • gens in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • gens in Ramminger, Johann (accessed 16 July 2016) Neulateinische Wortliste: Ein Wörterbuch des Lateinischen von Petrarca bis 1700[2], pre-publication website, 2005-2016
  • gens in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin
  1. ^ “kind”; in: M. Philippa e.a., Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands



From Latin gēns.


gens m pl

  1. (Guernsey, plural only) people



gens f (plural gens)

  1. (Ancient Rome) gens (in Ancient Rome, a group of people descending from a common ancestor)





  1. indefinite genitive singular of gen