noun \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


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Title applied to Old Testament leaders such as Methuselah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was once given also to some Roman Catholic bishops who wielded great authority. It is still used in Eastern Orthodoxy, which now has nine patriarchates: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria.


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