dy·​nas·​ty | \ ˈdī-nə-stē How to pronounce dynasty (audio) also -ˌna-stē, especially British ˈdi-nə-stē \
plural dynasties

Definition of dynasty

1 : a succession of rulers of the same line of descent (see descent sense 1a) a dynasty that ruled China for nearly 300 years
2 : a powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time born into a powerful political dynasty a baseball dynasty

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Other Words from dynasty

dynastic \ dī-​ˈna-​stik How to pronounce dynasty (audio) \ adjective
dynastically \ dī-​ˈna-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce dynasty (audio) \ adverb

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.”

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.

Examples of dynasty in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web This is someone who went from second-round draft pick to core player of a dynasty through sheer force of will. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "What to watch for in Draymond Green’s expected season debut with Warriors," 1 Jan. 2021 Hong’s academic struggles put him on the path to religious zealotry and leadership of peasants of southeastern China in a mass movement that threatened the security of the ruling Qing dynasty and led to the deaths of millions. George Brice/alamy/aci, History Magazine, "This religious revolt nearly toppled China's last imperial dynasty," 10 Dec. 2020 In the sweet post, the actress made a playful face while wrapped in a blanket as her boyfriend, who is part of the Anheuser-Busch brewing dynasty, smiled while standing by her side. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "Rebel Wilson Shares Selfie with Boyfriend Jacob Busch During Glamorous Monaco Getaway," 27 Sep. 2020 Horry played for more NBA championship teams than any other player who wasn't part of the Boston Celtics' dynasty led by Bill Russell. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Watch Robert Horry’s emotional response to shooting as a parent of Black sons," 27 Aug. 2020 North Korea is on its third dictator from a Communist dynasty. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "How Fares Freedom?," 17 Dec. 2020 Others are reaching back further, comparing America to China’s own Ming dynasty, which crumbled in the 1600s under the weight of corruption, insurrections and invasions. Chris Buckley, New York Times, "China’s Combative Nationalists See a World Turning Their Way," 14 Dec. 2020 It was called Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani, named after Ruth Ke‘elikōlani Keanolani Kanāhoahoa, a woman from an ancient Hawaiian dynasty who was the governor of Hawaii during the mid-1800s. Daniella Zalcman, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Inspiring Quest to Revive the Hawaiian Language," 17 Nov. 2020 Ronna McDaniel is the Republican National Committee chairwoman, a fundraising powerhouse for the party and the latest scion in the Romney family political dynasty. Michael C. Bender, WSJ, "GOP Leader Pushes Party to Pursue Suburban Women Like Her," 31 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dynasty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dynasty

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dynasty

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

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Time Traveler for dynasty

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

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dynasty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dynasty. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for dynasty


How to pronounce dynasty (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dynasty

: a family of rulers who rule over a country for a long period of time also : the period of time when a particular dynasty is in power
: a family, team, etc., that is very powerful or successful for a long period of time


dy·​nas·​ty | \ ˈdī-nə-stē How to pronounce dynasty (audio) \
plural dynasties

Kids Definition of dynasty

: a series of rulers of the same family

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