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[trahy-buh l] /ˈtraɪ bəl/
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a tribe:
tribal customs.
1625-35; tribe + -al1
Related forms
tribally, adverb
nontribal, adjective
nontribally, adverb
pretribal, adjective
pseudotribal, adjective
pseudotribally, adverb
quasi-tribal, adjective
quasi-tribally, adverb
subtribal, adjective
untribal, adjective
untribally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for tribal
  • tribal history is indicated, but in a mythological, mystical manner.
  • The mode of performing these tribal sacrifices was as follows.
  • tribal warfare has ended and people have now settled along the riverbanks, where they can more easily find turtles.
  • The performance is followed by a gallery visit that brings the world of tribal ancestors to life.
  • His soldiers followed him, largely out of tribal loyalty.
  • Biblical principles met tribal self-interest, and tribal self-interest triumphed.
  • Scientists had given tribal members the impression that their genetic research centered on susceptibility to diabetes.
  • There is no doubt a size limit on effective tribal size.
  • Tribe is what usually matters to cultures, and an accent is an indicator of tribal belonging.
  • He therefore advocates and implements programs that relocate tribal communities living in wildlife reserves to other regions.
British Dictionary definitions for tribal


of or denoting a tribe or tribes: tribal chiefs in northern Yemen
displaying loyalty to a tribe, group, or tribal values: the tribal loyalties of Labour MPs
Derived Forms
tribally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tribal

1630s, "pertaining to tribes," from tribe + -al (1). Related: Tribally Meaning "characterized by a strong sense of loyalty to one's group" is from 1951 (Arendt). As a style of belly-dance from 1999, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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