Ask Difference

Guild vs. Clan — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Updated on March 7, 2024
Guilds are typically formal groups organized around specific professions or interests, whereas clans are often kinship-based groups with shared ancestry or familial ties.
Guild vs. Clan — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Guild and Clan


Key Differences

Guilds are often associated with medieval trade associations, where craftsmen or merchants of the same profession join together to protect their mutual interests, regulate standards, and provide support to members. These organizations usually have a structured hierarchy and may require membership dues or adherence to certain rules. Clans, on the other hand, originate from tribal or family groups, emphasizing lineage and ancestry. Membership in a clan is usually determined by birth, and clans often play significant roles in societies with strong kinship ties, providing a sense of identity and support to their members.
While guilds are primarily focused on professional development, economic interests, and the advancement of specific crafts or trades, clans are more concerned with social, cultural, and sometimes political aspects, focusing on the welfare and unity of their members based on familial relationships.
Guilds can be found in various contexts, including online gaming communities, where they refer to groups of players who come together to achieve common goals. Here, the term has been adapted to describe cooperative play rather than professional association. Clans in modern contexts, especially in gaming, resemble traditional clans in that they often gather people with shared interests or goals, but the familial or ancestral component may be less pronounced or metaphorical.
Despite their differences, both guilds and clans serve to create a sense of community and belonging among their members, providing a network of support and shared identity, whether based on professional affiliations or family ties.

Comparison Chart


Profession, trade, or specific interest
Kinship, ancestry, or familial ties


Medieval Europe, trade associations
Tribal or family groups, ancient societies


Often requires application, fees, or qualifications
Typically determined by birth or lineage


Professional development, standards, economic interests
Social, cultural identity, support, sometimes political involvement

Modern Examples

Online gaming communities, professional organizations
Cultural heritage groups, online gaming communities

Compare with Definitions


Historically, a medieval association of craftsmen or merchants.
The weavers' guild regulated the quality of cloth in the town.


A group of close-knit and interrelated families.
The clan gathered every year for a traditional celebration.


Focuses on promoting and protecting the interests of its members.
The local business guild lobbied for lower taxes.


Can signify a sense of belonging to a large, extended family.
The community functioned like a large clan, supporting each other in times of need.


An association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal.
The artists' guild hosted workshops and exhibitions for its members.


In gaming, a team of players formed based on friendship or common interests.
Our clan competes in online tournaments regularly.


In gaming, a group of players that join forces for cooperative missions.
Our guild plans to tackle the new dungeon together this weekend.


In historical contexts, often associated with Scottish or Irish families.
Each clan in the Highlands had its own tartan pattern.


Often requires specific skills or interests for membership.
The guild of graphic designers is open to professionals and students alike.


Emphasizes lineage and shared ancestry.
Members of the clan traced their roots back to a common ancestor centuries ago.


A guild is an association of artisans and merchants who oversee the practice of their craft/trade in a particular area. The earliest types of guild formed as organizations of tradesmen, belonging to: a professional association, a trade union, a cartel, and/or a secret society.


A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor.


A medieval association of craftsmen or merchants, often having considerable power.


A close-knit group of interrelated families, especially in the Scottish Highlands
The clan Macleod
Civil strife has followed as rival clans jockey for power


An association of persons of the same trade or pursuits, formed to protect mutual interests and maintain standards.


A traditional social unit in the Scottish Highlands, consisting of a number of families claiming a common ancestor and following the same hereditary chieftain.


A similar association, as of merchants or artisans, in medieval times.


A division of a tribe tracing descent from a common ancestor.


(Ecology) A group of species in a community that use similar environmental resources in a similar way, such as a group of songbirds that all glean insects from leaves.


A large group of relatives, friends, or associates.


A group or association mainly of tradespeople made up of merchants, craftspeople, or artisans for mutual aid, particularly in the Middle Ages.


(anthropology) A group of people all descended from a common ancestor, in fact or belief, especially when the exact genealogies are not known.
Descent group


A corporation.


A traditional social group of families in the Scottish Highlands having a common hereditary chieftain


(ecology) A group of diverse species that share common characteristics or habits.


Any group defined by family ties with some sort of political unity.


(video games) An organized group of players who regularly play together in a multiplayer game.


(video games) A group of players who habitually play on the same team in multiplayer games.


An association of men belonging to the same class, or engaged in kindred pursuits, formed for mutual aid and protection; a business fraternity or corporation; as, the Stationers' Guild; the Ironmongers' Guild. They were originally licensed by the government, and endowed with special privileges and authority.


A badger colony.


A guildhall.


A tribe or collection of families, united under a chieftain, regarded as having the same common ancestor, and bearing the same surname; as, the clan of Macdonald.


A religious association or society, organized for charitable purposes or for assistance in parish work.


A formal association of people with similar interests;
He joined a golf club
They formed a small lunch society
Men from the fraternal order will staff the soup kitchen today

Common Curiosities

Are there membership fees for guilds or clans?

Guilds may require dues or fees, especially if they provide specific services or benefits; clans generally do not.

Do guilds still exist today?

Yes, guilds exist in various forms, including professional organizations and online gaming communities.

What is the main difference between a guild and a clan?

A guild is organized around professional or specific interests, while a clan is based on kinship or familial ties.

How do clans function in online gaming?

Clans in online gaming are groups of players who team up to compete, socialize, and achieve common goals.

Do you need special skills to join a guild?

In many cases, joining a guild may require certain skills or qualifications, particularly in professional contexts.

Can anyone start a guild or clan?

Yes, both guilds and clans can be initiated by anyone who wishes to gather people with shared goals or backgrounds.

What role do guilds play in professional industries?

Guilds in professional industries advocate for members' interests, set standards, and provide networking opportunities.

Is there a hierarchy in guilds and clans?

Guilds often have a structured hierarchy, while clans might have leaders or elders based on tradition or consensus.

Can you join a clan based on interest rather than family?

In modern contexts, especially in gaming, clans can be formed based on shared interests, not just family.

What benefits do online gaming guilds offer?

Benefits include cooperative play, shared resources, and strategies for advancing in games.

Why are clans important in cultural contexts?

Clans preserve cultural heritage, traditions, and a sense of identity among their members.

How does one find a guild or clan to join?

For guilds, seeking professional associations or online community forums; for clans, exploring family connections or online platforms based on interests.

How do you become a member of a clan?

Membership in a traditional clan is usually by birth, but in modern contexts, joining can be as simple as being accepted by the group.

Can a guild become a clan, or vice versa?

While their functions and bases for formation differ, the sense of community may overlap, but their foundational definitions typically remain distinct.

Do guilds and clans offer support to their members?

Yes, both offer various forms of support, whether it's professional advancement in guilds or social and emotional support in clans.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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