Definition of sept in US English:



  • A clan, originally one in Ireland.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Similarly, their national origins are no different from those of other Irish clans or septs.’
    • ‘It was part of the lands of the Clonmullin sept of the Kavanaghs.’
    • ‘‘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.’’
    • ‘The O'Donnells, Boyles and Gallaghers were all branches of this sept.’
    • ‘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 McIntoshes were the traditional chiefs of Clan Chattan, the McGillivrays the most important of several septs that affiliated themselves with the McIntoshes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Red Hand is also incorporated into the coats of arms of other septs who pledged their allegiance to the O'Neills.’
    ethnic group, people, race, nation
    View synonyms


Early 16th century: probably an alteration of sect.