Definition of phratry in English:


nounPlural phratries

  • A descent group or kinship group in some tribal societies.

    • ‘Aristotle, at Politics 128036-8, remarks that ‘thusiai’, groups which sacrifice together, are a precondition for the city, along with families, phratries, and other works of friendship.’
    • ‘Among the historic Winnebago, for instance, in-flesh inhumation was associated with the lower phratry, while platform burial was reserved for the upper phratry.’
    • ‘The feast of Apatouria involves the induction of infants, youths and wives into the phratry, or clan of families.’
    • ‘Gond society is divided into four groups known as phratries or sagas in Gondi.’
    • ‘In Classical Athens, for example, when a child was no longer a baby, at the age of three, it would be presented to the family clan, the phratry, and subsequently would participate in the choes festival for the first time that same year.’


Mid 19th century: from Greek phratria, from phratēr ‘clansman’.