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1550s, from Middle French nomade (16c.), from Latin Nomas (genitive Nomadis) "wandering groups in Arabia," from Greek nomas (genitive nomados, plural nomades) "roaming, roving, wandering" (to find pastures for flocks or herds), related to nomos "pasture, pasturage, grazing," literally "land allotted," and to nemein "put to pasture," originally "deal out," from PIE root *nem- "to divide, distribute, allot" (see nemesis).
A way of life in which a community has no permanent settlement but moves from place to place, usually seasonally and within a defined territory. For hunting and gathering societies, nomadism does not imply aimless wandering, but suggests an organized rotation of settlements to ensure maximum use of available natural resources.