Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A patrilineal clan of ancient Rome composed of several families of the same name claiming a common ancestor and belonging to a common religious cult.
  • n. Anthropology An exogamous patrilineal clan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A legally defined unit of Roman society closest in meaning to and translated by English clan, but not identical to it. The gens was a collection of families whose members were related by birth, marriage or adoption. All the families were considered to have descended from a common clan ancestor although in cases where the time from the ancestor to the contemporary time was great the kinship was more remote than is meant by the English term "related." In such cases the legal definition still prevailed.
  • n. a tribal subgroup whose members are characterized by having the same descent, usually along the male line
  • abbr. generations

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A clan or family connection, embracing several families of the same stock, who had a common name and certain common religious rites; a subdivision of the Roman curia or tribe.
  • n. A minor subdivision of a tribe, among American aborigines. It includes those who have a common descent, and bear the same totem.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In ancient Rome, a clan or house embracing several families claiming descent from a common ancestor, united by a common name and by certain religious rites and legal privileges and obligations, but not necessarily by consanguinity: as, the Fabian gens, all bearing the name Fabius; the Julian gens, all named Julius; the Cornelian gens, etc.
  • n. In historical and ethnological use, a tribe or clan; any community of persons in a primitive state of society constituting a distinct or independent branch of a general aggregate or race.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. family based on male descent

Etymologies

Latin gēns; see genə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Shortened from generations. (Wiktionary)
From Latin gēns ("gens; tribe, people"). See also gentile, gender, genus, generate. (Wiktionary)

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