dy·​nas·​ty ˈdī-nə-stē How to pronounce dynasty (audio)
 also  -ˌna-stē,
 especially British  ˈdi-nə-stē
plural dynasties
: a succession of rulers of the same line of descent (see descent sense 1a)
a dynasty that ruled China for nearly 300 years
: a powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time
born into a powerful political dynasty
a baseball dynasty
dynastic adjective
dynastically adverb

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Sports Dynasties

Dynasty has been in use in English for over 600 years, for most of that time referring to a ruling family that maintains power through succession. Around the beginning of the 19th century, the word developed the figurative sense “a group or family that dominates a particular field for generations.” Nowadays, this sense of dynasty is often applied to a sports franchise which has a prolonged run of successful seasons. The sports use appears to have begun in the early 20th century. An article in The Washington Post in 1905 refers to “John T. Brush’s baseball dynasty,” and by 1912 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that “if players were free agents at the end of every two years, baseball dynasties such as those built up by the Cubs, Athletics, Detroits and Giants would not be possible.”

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Dynasty Has Greek Roots

Dynast and dynasty both descend from the Greek verb dynasthai, which means "to be able" or "to have power." Dynasty came to prominence in English first; it has been part of our language since at least the 14th century. Dynast took its place in the linguistic family line in the early 1600s, and it has been used to describe sovereigns and other rulers ever since.

Example Sentences

a dynasty that ruled China for nearly 300 years There was a civil war during the dynasty. She was born into a powerful political dynasty.
Recent Examples on the Web Paetongtarn Shinawatra, 36, is one of the party’s three prime ministerial candidates and the latest member of a controversial political dynasty to contest. Helen Regan, CNN, 11 May 2023 Coker has built a small school dynasty at Plainview, winning four Class 3A state titles in the past four years. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, 31 Mar. 2023 The political scene has become a game of clashing dynasties that take turns falling in and out of favor with the country’s powerful military establishment, with the victors wielding the country’s justice system against their rivals. Salman Masood, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Mar. 2023 Mothers have lifted cars off of their children and destroyed entire dynasties. Women's Health, 6 Mar. 2023 The case has riveted the public with its tale of a South Carolina legal dynasty brought low by the swindling of millions and the scandalous web of lies woven by its reigning patriarch. Anumita Kaur, Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2023 Murdaugh, part of a South Carolina legal dynasty, was charged with murder in connection to the shooting deaths of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul. Nicole Fallert, USA TODAY, 1 Mar. 2023 The ballot includes plenty of proud memories like Warsaw's Judi Warren winning the first Ms. Basketball in 1976, Crispus Attucks High School's historic state championships, Indiana family dynasties and the Franklin Wonder Five's championship period of domination 100 years ago. The Indianapolis Star, 23 Feb. 2023 The Golden State Warriors, a dynasty with four championships in eight years, are hard to predict this season. Chris Ilenstine, Chicago Tribune, 19 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dynasty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English dynastia, dynastie "power, sovereignty, succession of rulers," borrowed from Medieval Latin dynastīa, going back to Late Latin, "rule, power," borrowed from Greek dynasteía "arbitrarily exercised political power, lordship, rule," from dynástēs "holder of political power, lord, ruler" + -eia -y entry 2 — more at dynast

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dynasty was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near dynasty

Cite this Entry

“Dynasty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dynasty. Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


dy·​nas·​ty ˈdī-nə-stē How to pronounce dynasty (audio)
 also  -ˌnas-tē
plural dynasties
: a succession of rulers of the same line of descent
dynastic adjective
dynastically adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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