1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tribe

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TRIBE (Lat. tribus, from tres, three), a word which is believed to have originally meant a “third part” of the people, in reference to the three patrician orders or political divisions of the people of Ancient Rome, the Ramnes, Tities and Luceres, representing the Latin, Sabine and Etruscan settlements. Its ethnological meaning has come to be any aggregate of families or small communities which are grouped together under one chief or leader, observing similar customs and social rules, and tracing their descent from one common ancestor. Examples of such “enlarged families” are the twelve tribes of Israel. In general the tribe is the earliest form of political organization, nations gradually being constituted by tribal amalgamation. (See Family.)