Definition of hierarchy
- a hierarchy of values
The church hierarchy faced resistance to some of their decisions.
He was at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy.
a rigid hierarchy of social classes
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hierarchy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The earliest meaning of hierarchy in English has to do with the ranks of different types of angels in the celestial order. The idea of categorizing groups according to rank readily transferred to the organization of priestly or other governmental rule. The word hierarchy is, in fact, related to a number of governmental words in English, such as monarchy, anarchy, and oligarchy, although it itself is now very rarely used in relation to government.
The word comes from the Greek hierarchēs, which was formed by combining the words hieros, meaning “supernatural, holy,” and archos, meaning. “ruler.” Hierarchy has continued to spread its meaning beyond matters ecclesiastical and governmental, and today is commonly found used in reference to any one of a number of different forms of graded classification.
: a group that controls an organization and is divided into different levels
: a system in which people or things are placed in a series of levels with different importance or status
What made you want to look up hierarchy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
to grant as a privilege or special favor
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