Definition of agnate in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈaɡnāt/
chiefly Law


A person descended from the same male ancestor as another specified or implied person, especially through the male line.
Example sentences
  • Men's social identity is almost entirely connected to the reputation of their agnatic Houses as well as the nature of their relations with agnates.
  • Most of these marriages were strongly resisted by the kinsfolk of the parties, particularly those that involved agnates from the same village, though none of them were from the same hamlet.
  • A protagonist's supporters, mostly close agnates, are motivated to assist because of the desire to help a brother, that is through conventional motivation.


Descended from the same male ancestor as a specified or implied subject, especially through the male line. Compare with cognate (sense 2 of the adjective).
Example sentences
  • He was an agnate descendant of Saint James the Just, Patriarch of Israel and first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem, and as such, head of the Royal Davidic House of Israel.
  • This second column on “Tycoons, New England, and Kings,” covers the royal descents, and much New England ancestry, for 10 families long associated with American industry, finance, merchandising, railroads, and media, for whom such lines were first brought into the family not by the fortune-finder himself, but by his wife, daughter-in-law, granddaughter-in-law, or the wife of a later agnate descendant.
  • A known agnate descendant of his brother Jarvis Wingfield was tested and shown to be a definite non-match to the profile closely shared by the descendants of the 3 brothers and the descendant of the English Wingfield.



Pronunciation: /aɡˈnadik/
Example sentences
  • Inheritance is based partly on agnation, and agnatic kin are theoretically all potential heirs to each other's livestock and other wealth.
  • In Capari I found that men generally exaggerated both their independence from women in decision-making and the significance of their agnatic kin over their affines and/or matrilateral kin.
  • Moreover, they are seen as typical of most other Macedonian and south Slav societies whose agnatic kinship structures have been the focus of many anthropological studies.


Pronunciation: /aɡˈnāSH(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • Inheritance is based partly on agnation, and agnatic kin are theoretically all potential heirs to each other's livestock and other wealth.
  • The stress on agnation in inheritance and family relations and the masculinity of labour in hill farming, tied to the apparent primary social significance of men certainly seem to position women as minor players.
  • Simic and Rheubottom's conclusions about the nature of women's power and authority draws on widespread prejudices in the literature that privilege the ideals of agnation over the lived reality of women in households.


Late 15th century (as a noun): from Latin agnatus, from ad- 'to' + gnatus, natus 'born'.

Words that rhyme with agnate


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ag·nate

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.