Definition of tribal in English:



  • 1Of or characteristic of a tribe or tribes.

    ‘tribal people in Malaysia’
    • ‘This is a very important part of tribal culture and preserves a tribe's identity and beliefs.’
    • ‘Those who decided to stay in the East could select homesteads on former tribal land.’
    • ‘Other peoples had military leaders, tribal chiefs, or headmen, but not officials.’
    • ‘Shared property rights or land use rights are held by custom and are generally tribal in origin.’
    • ‘This definition comes from someone who has lived among the rivalries of Northwest Coast tribal groups?’
    • ‘The legal system is based on a combination of Spanish law and the tribal system.’
    • ‘Since then, the world has been consumed with religious, racial, ethnic and tribal conflict.’
    • ‘These tribal groups still do not identify themselves with the national culture.’
    • ‘This national event is about tribal and folk life in all its resplendent beauty and colour in the country.’
    • ‘Instead, the country has different tribal groups found on the different islands.’
    • ‘The founding act of this recoding is the repositioning of the tribal object as art.’
    • ‘The senior man in a family has the same kind of authority that tribal chiefs have.’
    • ‘Indigenous, tribal, and peasant communities have been particularly hard hit.’
    • ‘They were a tribal nation where each tribe was recognised and God was the head.’
    • ‘Although it is officially discouraged, there is some hiring along tribal lines.’
    • ‘Imagine an anthropologist visiting a remote tribal village to study its inhabitants.’
    • ‘The idea of a wild chaotic continent wracked by poverty, drought and tribal warfare is challenged by images as well as words.’
    • ‘In the middle regions a number of tribal languages of the Munda or Austroasiatic family are spoken.’
    • ‘The meat and blubber were consumed by members of the Makah Tribe and during tribal ceremonies.’
    • ‘You and your people cannot be adopted into the Kiktu without the consent of the entire tribe, in full tribal assembly.’
    state, public, federal, governmental
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1derogatory Characterized by or reflecting strong group loyalty.
      ‘people don't want political parties stuck in rigid tribal boundaries’
      • ‘The loyalty is often called tribal, and it's true that it's one of the ways we define who we are and where we come from.’
      • ‘The other factor is the tribal warfare that exists between the rugby playing schools of the area.’
      • ‘It is tribal warfare masquerading as something more intellectually respectable.’
      • ‘It has left him with strong views on the tribal battle lines that are drawn around the health service.’
      racial, race-related, ethnological, genetic, inherited
      View synonyms


  • Members of tribal communities, especially in South Asia.

    • ‘The screening is aimed at creating a public awareness about the nationwide fight of the tribals.’
    • ‘In the 1960s, Bhanjdeo organized impoverished tribals and became immensely popular.’
    • ‘The move is designed to divide the tribals along religious communal lines and to create friction amongst them.’
    • ‘In Gujarat all castes were united, as were even Scheduled Castes and tribals in their opposition to Congress.’
    • ‘The analysts here are worried about the tribals turning communal.’