See also: Tribe


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PIE word

From Middle English tribe, tribu, from Old French tribu, from Latin tribus. Doublet of tribus.


  • IPA(key): /tɹaɪb/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪb


tribe (plural tribes)

  1. (history, anthropology) An ethnic group larger than a band or clan (and which may contain clans) but smaller than a nation (and which in turn may be contained within a nation). The tribe is often the basis of ethnic identity.
    the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Germanic tribes, Celtic tribes
    • The Formation of Kazakh Identity: From Tribe to Nation-state
  2. (synecdoche) A tribal nation or people.
  3. (derogatory) A nation or people in an area considered culturally primitive, such as Africa, Australia or Native America.
  4. A socially cohesive group of people within a society
    • 2005, Sean Dooley, The Big Twitch, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, page 26:
      The thought of spending a year in close company with twitchers chilled me to the core. Not that I have anything against them, I am terribly fond of the members of the tribe, it is just that basically, they are a bunch of obsessive freaks.
  5. (zoology) A group of apes who live and work together.
  6. (taxonomy) A hierarchal rank between family and genus.
  7. The collective noun for various animals.
  8. (stock breeding) A family of animals descended from some particular female progenitor, through the female line.
    the Duchess tribe of shorthorns


Derived termsEdit



tribe (third-person singular simple present tribes, present participle tribing, simple past and past participle tribed)

  1. (transitive) To distribute into tribes or classes; to categorize.
    • 1696-1699, William Nicolson, English Historical Library
      Our fowl, fish, and quadruped are well tribed.

See alsoEdit


Middle EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit


From Old French tribu, from Latin tribus.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtriːb(ə)/, /ˈtriːbu/


tribe (plural tribus)

  1. One of the twelve tribes of Israel.
  2. (rare) Any tribe or kin group.
  3. (rare) A league or grouping.


  • English: tribe