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’
    • ‘However, these villages' customary landowner clans refused the dam's construction, outlining several reasons.’
    • ‘But the strong tradition of upholding the clan makes for mutual support and a sharing and egalitarian instinct.’
    • ‘People of the same clan claim a common totem (dodem, do daim, or do dam), the symbol of a living creature.’
    • ‘They descended from clans in present-day Guangxi province after the fall of the Han Dynasty in AD 220.’
    • ‘Tartan ties, scarves and even a map of the Scottish clans filled the window of the shop.’
    • ‘The clans have loosely defined territories, and prolonged wars, often spanning generations, were once common between clans.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Formal education used to be of little significance among ruling and landowning Rajput clans.’
    • ‘Persons with different surnames may share a common clan name, revealing a relationship along the lineage.’
    • ‘Other Rajput clans trace their ancestry to the Sun or Moon.’
    • ‘Outside the immediate family, the lineage and the clan are the most common descent groups.’
    • ‘The Scottish have used tartan patterns for centuries to identify the clan, family or regiment with which the wearer is associated.’
    • ‘In addition, nearly every Rajput clan has its own patron god to whom it turns for protection.’
    • ‘Where I'm from, my family had to hide from rival Somalia clans.’
    • ‘"Kaya, watch your mouth, you're talking to your clan leader!’
    • ‘The new clan chieftain was announced out of an initial 10 nominees.’
    • ‘Highland society in general, however, was organized into that most celebrated of Scottish institutions, the clan.’
    • ‘The Tang Dynasty appointed local clan chieftains to govern for them.’
    • ‘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.’
    group of families, sept, gens
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A large family.
      ‘the Watts clan is one of racing's oldest families’
      • ‘I'm not alone in my interest in the Osbourne clan.’
      • ‘This member of the Miller clan had no interest in seeing the view from his cousins' perspective.’
      • ‘The entire Wade clan was gathered there, including Devon, who was entertaining himself with the terrier.’
      • ‘She found the entire clan in the common room and she said down next to Chris.’
      • ‘Each clan has its own little internal idiosyncrasies.’
      • ‘The occasion was her birthday and the whole clan had gathered for the celebration.’
      • ‘This year the Cohen clan may be spending Christmas a little bit closer to home.’
      • ‘The whole family will be reunited in Marbella next week when the Masterson clan gathers in the villa.’
      • ‘He shares his home in Tarzana, LA, with his two half-sisters and his stepfather (more on his complicated clan later).’
      • ‘So when the extended clan gathers for the twins' eightieth birthday it is a necessarily complex arrangement.’
      • ‘Romeo and Juliet had the visible force of warring clans to defeat their love.’
      • ‘The company is owned by the extended Whitaker family, descended from the Johnson and Perrott clans that gave the business its name in 1910.’
      • ‘But her son is a doctor, something the entire clan is very proud of.’
      • ‘At least it has a classic story line - the offspring of two feuding clans falling in love and taking on the world together.’
      • ‘Yet he has his own life, and it remains uncertain whether he will attend the next big Mortimer clan gathering in Long Island this Christmas.’
      group of families, sept, gens
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A group of people with a strong common interest.
      ‘New York's garrulous clan of artists’
      • ‘Yes, Elinor is the eccentric one of our little clan.’
      • ‘He's always out with his little clan of jocks, anyways.’
      • ‘The clan gather at the pub at 8pm and new members are always made welcome.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Scottish Gaelic clann ‘offspring, family’, from Old Irish cland, from Latin planta ‘sprout’.