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From an older, obsolete verb cilt (to rise), or perhaps, via ablaut, from celt (to raise, to lift, to build). The meaning of cilt, “to rise,” is linked to that of “to appear, to originate, to be born;” the original being thus changed from “(where) one rises, is born” to “tribe.” Cognates include Lithuanian kiltìs.[1]




cilts f (6th declension)

  1. tribe (group of people with a primitive type of social organization)
    pirmatnējās ciltis‎ ― primitive tribes
    klejotāju ciltis‎ ― nomadic tribes
    mednieku ciltis‎ ― hunter tribes
    sena cilts‎ ― ancient tribe
    cilts virsaitis‎ ― tribal chieftain
  2. a group of relatives with a common origin or ancestor, a clan, family
    viena asins... viena cilts‎ ― one blood... one clan
    sena zvejnieku cilts‎ ― an old clan/family of fishermen
  3. (poetic) a group of people united by common ideals, activities, goals
    cilvēku cilts‎ ― the human tribe, humankind



  1. ^ Karulis, Konstantīns (1992), “cilts”, in Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca (in Latvian), Rīga: AVOTS, ISBN 9984-700-12-7