It continues a Proto-Germanic term *sebjō, which referred to a band or confederation bound by a treaty or oath, not primarily restricted to blood relations. The original character of sibb as a peace treaty is visible in Old English, e.g. in Beowulf (v. 1858):
Most of the information left about the nature and role of the Sippe is found in records left by the Lombards, Alamanni, and Bavarians. One of the functions of the Sippe was regulating use of forests. The average Sippe likely contained no more than 50 families. The Sippe seems to have been absorbed into the monogamous family later on; P.D. King asserts that this was already the case among the Visigoths during the time of the Visigothic Kingdom.