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 Alex Murdaugh, 54, the once powerful scion of a South Carolina legal dynasty, is on trial for the slayings of his wife and son. Fox News, 2 Feb. 2023 Murdaugh, part of a South Carolina legal dynasty, was charged with murder in connection to the 2021 shooting deaths of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 27 Jan. 2023 The trial of Alex Murdaugh, the onetime patriarch of a multigenerational legal dynasty in South Carolina who is now accused of killing his wife and son, began Wednesday. María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 26 Jan. 2023 The result is sales of $6.6 billion since becoming The Jills Zeder Group and $1.6 billion in deals last year — not to mention the founding of a multi-family realtor dynasty, with each member pulling considerable financial weight. Christopher Cameron, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Jan. 2023 Known as the King of Kings, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God, Selassie was hailed as the culmination of a dynasty that, according to legend, had begun with the union of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 26 Sep. 2022 The third-generation scion of a Hong Kong real estate dynasty, the Cheng family ranks number three on this year’s Forbes Asia Hong Kong Rich List with a reported net worth of USD $26.6 billion. Marc Karimzadeh, Town & Country, 31 Aug. 2022 What this means is that unlike the epic scope of Game Of Thrones, House of the Dragon will focus more on the dealings of court and the backstabbing and treachery and politics of a vast and powerful dynasty in crisis. Erik Kain, Forbes, 18 Aug. 2022 Johnson and his father are both part of a much larger wrestling dynasty: his grandfather High Chief Peter Mavia was a WWE Hall of Famer who also happened to be good pals with French wrestling legend Andre the Giant. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 25 July 2022 See More

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.

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 9 Feb. 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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