Definition of clan in English:



  • 1A close-knit group of interrelated families, especially in the Scottish Highlands:

    ‘the clan Macleod’
    ‘civil strife has followed as rival clans jockey for power’
    • ‘The new clan chieftain was announced out of an initial 10 nominees.’
    • ‘Where I'm from, my family had to hide from rival Somalia clans.’
    • ‘However, these villages' customary landowner clans refused the dam's construction, outlining several reasons.’
    • ‘Highland society in general, however, was organized into that most celebrated of Scottish institutions, the clan.’
    • ‘Land ownership was nonexistant in the Arabian desert, instead there was collective control over the oases, pastures, and wells, and mostly the stronger clans controlled the best territories.’
    • ‘"Kaya, watch your mouth, you're talking to your clan leader!’
    • ‘The Scottish have used tartan patterns for centuries to identify the clan, family or regiment with which the wearer is associated.’
    • ‘Tartan ties, scarves and even a map of the Scottish clans filled the window of the shop.’
    • ‘Persons with different surnames may share a common clan name, revealing a relationship along the lineage.’
    • ‘Since the early 1990s, Somalia has suffered from a civil war between rival clans.’
    • ‘Let us go back in time where Scottish tartan denoted the clan you belonged too.’
    • ‘Other Rajput clans trace their ancestry to the Sun or Moon.’
    • ‘They descended from clans in present-day Guangxi province after the fall of the Han Dynasty in AD 220.’
    • ‘Formal education used to be of little significance among ruling and landowning Rajput clans.’
    • ‘People of the same clan claim a common totem (dodem, do daim, or do dam), the symbol of a living creature.’
    • ‘But the strong tradition of upholding the clan makes for mutual support and a sharing and egalitarian instinct.’
    • ‘In addition, nearly every Rajput clan has its own patron god to whom it turns for protection.’
    • ‘The clans have loosely defined territories, and prolonged wars, often spanning generations, were once common between clans.’
    • ‘Outside the immediate family, the lineage and the clan are the most common descent groups.’
    • ‘The Tang Dynasty appointed local clan chieftains to govern for them.’
    group of families, sept, gens
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    1. 1.1 A large family:
      ‘the Watts clan is one of racing's oldest families’
      • ‘At least it has a classic story line - the offspring of two feuding clans falling in love and taking on the world together.’
      • ‘Each clan has its own little internal idiosyncrasies.’
      • ‘He shares his home in Tarzana, LA, with his two half-sisters and his stepfather (more on his complicated clan later).’
      • ‘The company is owned by the extended Whitaker family, descended from the Johnson and Perrott clans that gave the business its name in 1910.’
      • ‘This year the Cohen clan may be spending Christmas a little bit closer to home.’
      group of families, sept, gens
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    2. 1.2 A group of people with a strong common interest:
      ‘New York's garrulous clan of artists’
      • ‘The clan gather at the pub at 8pm and new members are always made welcome.’
      • ‘He's always out with his little clan of jocks, anyways.’
      • ‘Yes, Elinor is the eccentric one of our little clan.’
      • ‘Often it's a matter of conflicting interests with no resolution at a higher level than the interests - warring clans, greedy industries.’
      group, set, circle, clique, coterie, in-crowd, fraternity, brotherhood, community, society
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Late Middle English: from Scottish Gaelic clann offspring, family, from Old Irish cland, from Latin planta sprout.