Definition of matrilineal in English:



  • Of or based on kinship with the mother or the female line.

    ‘a society founded on the matrilineal kinship principle’
    • ‘A kinship system based on matrilineal clans was the source of Cherokee identity and the sinew of society.’
    • ‘The important kin groups are patrilineal and matrilineal lineages and clans.’
    • ‘In matrilineal ethnic groups such as the Wolof, the mother's brother is sent on behalf of the groom to ask for the bride's hand.’
    • ‘In some cultures a village consists of matrilineal kin and their dependents.’
    • ‘Kinship and descent may have been organized around matrilineal clans, a common pattern in Micronesia.’
    • ‘The Akan domestic arrangements are based on matrilineal principles.’
    • ‘In addition, property passes from one generation to the next based on matrilineal ties.’
    • ‘Among matrilineal societies, respect for one's mother's brother is marked by the use of polite language and physical avoidance on formal occasions.’
    • ‘The legend continues that in time the kinship system changed from a matrilineal to a patrilineal one (tracing descent through the male line).’
    • ‘Their kinship organization is based on extended matrilineal groups, in which women have a high status.’
    • ‘The social rank of females is not stable before and during adolescent development, but reproductive females assume a higher matrilineal rank than their older sisters.’
    • ‘The fact that all livestock are inherited along the matrilineal line is exceptional.’
    • ‘Many of Indonesia's ethnic groups have strong kinship groupings based upon patrilineal, matrilineal, or bilateral descent.’
    • ‘Presently, matrilineal kinship occupies merely a shadowy and at times nostalgic part of collective Keralite memory.’
    • ‘Pueblo culture is matrilineal and matrilocal.’
    • ‘Each settlement was composed of a small number of households headed by men belonging to a matrilineal kinship unit called a likola.’
    • ‘They are a matrilineal group (tracing descent through the mother's line).’
    • ‘He also recognizes matrilineal kin groups, linear dominance rank orders, and behaves as if he recognizes his own unique place within them.’
    • ‘Some clans were matrilineal, and children were affiliated with their mother's clan.’
    • ‘Most kin groups tend to be patrilineal and patrilocal, although there are also large categories of matrilineal kin who share rights to land and to local religious and political offices.’


Early 20th century: from Latin mater, matr- mother + lineal.