hi·​er·​ar·​chi·​cal | \ˌhī-(ə-)ˈrär-ki-kəl also hir-ˈär- \
variants: or hierarchic \ ˌhī-​(ə-​)ˈrär-​kik also  hir-​ˈär-​ \

Definition of hierarchical 

: of, relating to, or arranged in a hierarchy a hierarchical society a hierarchical order in the church

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Other Words from hierarchical

hierarchically \ ˌhī-​(ə-​)ˈrär-​ki-​k(ə-​)lē also  hir-​ˈär-​ \ adverb

Examples of hierarchical in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

That’s about learning how to communicate in a strongly hierarchical situation. Joshunda Sanders, Longreads, "Who Sank El Faro? An Interview With Rachel Slade," 23 May 2018 But the extremely hierarchical and rigid societies that the actions of settling down, forming cities, storing grain, and spreading population created eventually resulted in just that outcome. Timothy Morton, The Atlantic, "The Hurricane in My Backyard," 8 July 2018 Democratize the field The panelists agreed that science can be too hierarchical and slow. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, "5 Ways to Defend Science in 2018," 20 Mar. 2018 Everything about the funeral is hierarchical, cementing the status of the dead person’s family, the people who attend, and many who don’t. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "A man was crushed to death beneath his mother’s coffin," 18 June 2018 Democratize the field The panelists agreed that science can be too hierarchical and slow. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, "5 Ways to Defend Science in 2018," 20 Mar. 2018 Meerkat society is also rigidly hierarchical, and fatally so; as pregnant meerkats will kill a subordinate's offspring to make room in the clan. Ben Guarino, Anchorage Daily News, "The world’s most murderous mammal is probably not what you think it is," 30 Sep. 2016 Some veterans of the Trump White House say the president chafes under the sort of hierarchical structure that Mr. Kelly sought to create, preferring to consult with friends and associates on his own timetable. Peter Nicholas, WSJ, "Trump Consults on Successors for Chief of Staff John Kelly," 28 June 2018 His Catholicism was simpler, more Nicaraguan, and of the old hierarchical style the people loved: vestments, incense, prayers to the saints, spiritual instruction. The Economist, "Obituary: Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, the first cardinal from Central America," 23 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hierarchical.' 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 hierarchical

1561, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hierarchical

see hierarchy

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Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for hierarchical

The first known use of hierarchical was in 1561

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More from Merriam-Webster on hierarchical

Spanish Central: Translation of hierarchical

Nglish: Translation of hierarchical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hierarchical for Arabic Speakers

Comments on hierarchical

What made you want to look up hierarchical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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