noun pa·tri·arch \ˈpā-trē-ˌärk\

: a man who controls a family, group, or government

: an official (called a bishop) of very high rank in the Orthodox Church

Full Definition of PATRIARCH

a :  one of the scriptural fathers of the human race or of the Hebrew people
b :  a man who is father or founder
c (1) :  the oldest member or representative of a group
(2) :  a venerable old man
d :  a man who is head of a patriarchy
a :  any of the bishops of the ancient or Eastern Orthodox sees of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem or the ancient and Western see of Rome with authority over other bishops
b :  the head of any of various Eastern churches
c :  a Roman Catholic bishop next in rank to the pope with purely titular or with metropolitan jurisdiction
:  a Mormon of the Melchizedek priesthood empowered to perform the ordinances of the church and pronounce blessings within a stake or prescribed jurisdiction

Examples of PATRIARCH

  1. Our grandfather was the family's patriarch.
  2. The tribe's patriarch ruled for 20 years before his death.


Middle English patriarche, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin patriarcha, from Greek patriarchēs, from patria lineage (from patr-, patēr father) + -archēs -arch — more at father
First Known Use: 13th century

Other Anthropology Terms

ectomorph, ethnography, prehistory, yurt
PATRIARCH Defined for Kids


noun pa·tri·arch \ˈpā-trē-ˌärk\

Definition of PATRIARCH for Kids

:  a man who heads a family, group, or government
:  a respected old man

Word Root of PATRIARCH

The Latin word pater, meaning father, and the Greek word patēr give us the root pater or patr. Anyone or anything paternal, such as an aunt or uncle, is related to one's father. A patriarch is a father and ruler of a family or tribe. A patriot is a person who loves his or her fatherland or country. A patron is a person who gives support and approval for a project or artist, as fathers support and approve of their children.


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