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See also: Gens and ġens



Etymology 1Edit

A bust of Marcus Aurelius (121–180 C.E.) found in Kandilli, Bilecik Province, and currently in the collection of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. 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.
  2. (anthropology) A tribal subgroup whose members are characterized by having the same descent, usually along the male line.
    • 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.
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)

Etymology 2Edit

Clipping of generations.




  1. plural of gen (clipping of generation).

Further readingEdit





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



From an earlier gents, plural of gent, from Latin gentem, accusative 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
  • du Cange, Charles (1883), “gens”, in G. A. Louis Henschel, Pierre Carpentier, Léopold Favre, editors, Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (in Latin), Niort: L. Favre
  • gens in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français [Illustrated Latin-French Dictionary], 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