clan (klăn)
n. 1) A traditional social unit in the Scottish Highlands, consisting of a number of families claiming a common ancestor and following the same hereditary chieftain. 2) A division of a tribe tracing descent from a common ancestor. 3) A large group of relatives, friends, or associates.
[Middle English, from Scottish Gaelic clann, family, from Old Irish cland, offspring, from Latin planta, plant, sprout; see plat-.]
Word History: The word clan is, from the etymological point of view, the same word as plant. Such a statement may at first appear unlikely to English speakers, since the two words begin with very different consonants. But to the speakers of the Celtic language of Ireland in the 400s, known as Old Irish, c and p sounded quite similar. When St. Patrick converted Ireland to Christianity in the 5th century, the Old Irish language had no consonant p. After their conversion, the Irish began to borrow many words from Latin, and when the speakers of early Old Irish tried to pronounce the sound p in Latin words, the best they could manage was a (kw) or (k) sound, spelled c in Old Irish. For instance, the Latin words purpura, "purple," and Pascha, "Easter," were borrowed as corcur and Casc. (Later, as their language continued to develop and change, the Irish learned to cope with p, and Modern Irish has many words containing this consonant.) The early Irish also borrowed the Latin word planta meaning "sprout" or "sprig,"—also the source of the English word plant—and pronounced it cland. In Old Irish, cland was used to mean not only "offshoot of a plant" but also "offspring," "family," and "clan." The word cland was carried to the area that is now Scotland when speakers of Old Irish gained power in the region in the late 400s. The form of Old Irish spoken in Scotland eventually developed into the language now known as Scottish Gaelic. In Scottish Gaelic, cland developed the form clann, and it was from Scottish Gaelic that the word clan entered English in the 15th century, at first with reference to the clans of the Scottish Highlands.

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • clan — clan …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • Clan — clan …   Dictionary of sociology

  • CLAN — Dans son acception minimale, qui est aussi celle du langage courant, le terme «clan» désigne un groupement fondé sur la parenté: ses membres se reconnaissent descendants d’un même ancêtre. Cette signification fondamentale du clan en fait… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • clan — clan·des·tine; clan·des·tine·ly; clan·des·tine·ness; clan·des·tin·i·ty; clan·gu·la; clan·jam·frey; clan·less; clan·nish; clan·ship; clan·wil·liam; cy·clan·thus; le·clan·ché; matri·clan; pat·ri·clan; cy·clan·de·late; clan; clan·nish·ness; …   English syllables

  • Clan So — Clan Sō Le clan Sō (宗氏 shi) était un clan du Japon médiéval qui a gouverné l île Tsushima de la période Kamakura à la période Edo les historiens pensent que le clan descend du clan Koremune, qui occupait le poste de dazaifu dans la province de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • clan — CLAN, clanuri, s.n. 1. Comunitate gentilică caracteristică comunei primitive, formată din oameni legaţi prin relaţii de rudenie şi de limbă. 2. (peior.) Clică. – Din fr. clan. Trimis de hai, 21.05.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  CLAN s. v. bandă. Trimis de …   Dicționar Român

  • Clan (TV) — Création 12 décembre 2005 Propriétaire Radio Televisión Española Slogan « Parte de ti » Format d image …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Clan — (kl[a^]n), n. [Gael. clann offspring, descendants; akin to Ir. clann, cland, offspring, tribe, family; perh. from L. plania scion, slip, cutting. Cf. {Plant}, n.] 1. A tribe or collection of families, united under a chieftain, regarded as having… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • clan — 1. (klan) s. m. En Écosse et en Irlande, parmi les Gaëls, tribu formée d un certain nombre de familles, régie par des coutumes déterminées, et ayant un chef appartenant à une famille éminente qui le fournit héréditairement. Un clan de montagnards …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • clan — s.m.inv. 1a. TS stor. presso i popoli gaelici, gruppo familiare i cui membri discendono in linea maschile da un progenitore comune: i clan scozzesi, il clan dei McDonald 1b. TS etnol. gruppo sociale chiuso, l appartenenza al quale si basa su… …   Dizionario italiano

  • clan — [klæn] n [Date: 1400 1500; : Scottish Gaelic; Origin: clann family, race, clan , from Old Irish cland new growth on a plant, offspring , from Latin planta; PLANT1] 1.) a large group of families that often share the same name ▪ the Campbell clan ▪ …   Dictionary of contemporary English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.