Definition of tribal in English:



  • 1Of or characteristic of a tribe or tribes.

    ‘tribal people in Malaysia’
    • ‘Although it is officially discouraged, there is some hiring along tribal lines.’
    • ‘Those who decided to stay in the East could select homesteads on former tribal land.’
    • ‘Indigenous, tribal, and peasant communities have been particularly hard hit.’
    • ‘The meat and blubber were consumed by members of the Makah Tribe and during tribal ceremonies.’
    • ‘The senior man in a family has the same kind of authority that tribal chiefs have.’
    • ‘Imagine an anthropologist visiting a remote tribal village to study its inhabitants.’
    • ‘Instead, the country has different tribal groups found on the different islands.’
    • ‘Shared property rights or land use rights are held by custom and are generally tribal in origin.’
    • ‘The legal system is based on a combination of Spanish law and the tribal system.’
    • ‘This national event is about tribal and folk life in all its resplendent beauty and colour in the country.’
    • ‘This is a very important part of tribal culture and preserves a tribe's identity and beliefs.’
    • ‘The idea of a wild chaotic continent wracked by poverty, drought and tribal warfare is challenged by images as well as words.’
    • ‘Since then, the world has been consumed with religious, racial, ethnic and tribal conflict.’
    • ‘You and your people cannot be adopted into the Kiktu without the consent of the entire tribe, in full tribal assembly.’
    • ‘The founding act of this recoding is the repositioning of the tribal object as art.’
    • ‘They were a tribal nation where each tribe was recognised and God was the head.’
    • ‘Other peoples had military leaders, tribal chiefs, or headmen, but not officials.’
    • ‘In the middle regions a number of tribal languages of the Munda or Austroasiatic family are spoken.’
    • ‘These tribal groups still do not identify themselves with the national culture.’
    • ‘This definition comes from someone who has lived among the rivalries of Northwest Coast tribal groups?’
    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’
      • ‘It has left him with strong views on the tribal battle lines that are drawn around the health service.’
      • ‘The other factor is the tribal warfare that exists between the rugby playing schools of the area.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is tribal warfare masquerading as something more intellectually respectable.’
      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 Gujarat all castes were united, as were even Scheduled Castes and tribals in their opposition to Congress.’
    • ‘The move is designed to divide the tribals along religious communal lines and to create friction amongst them.’
    • ‘In the 1960s, Bhanjdeo organized impoverished tribals and became immensely popular.’
    • ‘The analysts here are worried about the tribals turning communal.’