Definition of sept in English:



  • A subdivision of a clan, originally one in Ireland.

    • ‘Centred in Dorset but also occupying the southern parts of Wiltshire and Somerset, the Durotriges seem to have been a loosely knit confederation of small tribal groups or septs at the time of the Roman conquest.’
    • ‘Divided as they were into tribes, septs, and clans and penetrated by family feuds they had little central organization but in times of crisis rallied under a war leader.’
    • ‘Similarly, their national origins are no different from those of other Irish clans or septs.’
    • ‘‘In Ireland, Scotland and Wales,’ he goes on, ‘we have the clan system with a small group of names and a wide spectrum of septs.’’
    • ‘He was reputed to have been a direct descendant of the O'Kellys of Gallen, one of the seven septs of ancient Laois.’
    • ‘Traditionally, newly married women have taken up residence in the homeland of their husband, meaning that family names have remained in the area of the particular clans or septs for generations.’
    • ‘The McIntoshes were the traditional chiefs of Clan Chattan, the McGillivrays the most important of several septs that affiliated themselves with the McIntoshes.’
    • ‘She pointed out that the play wasn't a definitive history, but took different views on issues such as the fall of the seven septs of Laois and the fall of the Rock of Dunamaise.’
    • ‘For eight centuries before that, the family a sept of Ui Fiachra were a great maritime power and ruled the seas along the Western Atlantic.’
    • ‘The Red Hand is also incorporated into the coats of arms of other septs who pledged their allegiance to the O'Neills.’
    • ‘The O'Donnells, Boyles and Gallaghers were all branches of this sept.’
    • ‘It was part of the lands of the Clonmullin sept of the Kavanaghs.’
    ethnic group, people, race, nation
    View synonyms


Early 16th century: probably an alteration of sect.