Definition of hierarchy
1 : a division of angels
3 : a body of persons in authority
4 : the classification of a group of people according to ability or to economic, social, or professional standing; also : the group so classified
5 : a graded or ranked series a hierarchy of values
Examples of hierarchy in a Sentence
… he wrote a verse whose metaphors were read somewhere in the Baathist hierarchy as incitement to Kurdish nationalism. —Geraldine Brooks, Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2001
Whereas the monkeys normally hew to strict hierarchies when it comes to who gets the best food and who grooms whom, there are no obvious top or rotten bananas in the sharing of millipede secretions. —Natalie Angier, New York Times, 5 Dec. 2000
The idea that social order has to come from a centralized, rational, bureaucratic hierarchy was very much associated with the industrial age. —Francis Fukuyama, Atlantic, May 1999
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
Recent Examples of hierarchy from the Web
In the hierarchy of American agriculture, sheep lagged far behind cattle.
He was born into a world that accepted monarchy and all that went along with it — social hierarchy, wars brought on by disputes between royals, established churches that ran everyday people’s lives.
A hierarchy of the senses also buttresses place names.
It slots between the Outlander Sport and the Outlander in the hierarchy, sharing its 105.1-inch wheelbase with both, its 173.4-inch overall length splitting the difference between them.
One of the biggest issues, according to league sources outside of the current Magic hierarchy, was the Magic’s tendency to give youngsters playing time early in their careers without requiring the youngsters to earn that playing time.
Richard Arend claims in a lawsuit that his five-year campaign to call out wrongdoing within the hierarchy of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bloch School of Management resulted in his dismissal in December 2016.
In promoting Riveron, the league restructured the officiating hierarchy.
The $200 million development, opening June 1, is poised to shake up Hollywood's hotel hierarchy.
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.
What did hierarchy Originally Mean?
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.
Origin and Etymology of hierarchy
Middle English ierarchie rank or order of holy beings, from Anglo-French jerarchie, from Medieval Latin hierarchia, from Late Greek, from Greek hierarchēs
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
HIERARCHY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of hierarchy for English Language Learners
: 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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up hierarchy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).