ma·​tri·​arch | \ ˈmā-trē-ˌärk How to pronounce matriarch (audio) \

Definition of matriarch

: a woman who rules or dominates a family, group, or state specifically : a mother who is head and ruler of her family and descendants Our grandmother was the family's matriarch.

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Synonyms for matriarch


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A matriarchy is a social unit governed by a woman or group of women. It isn't certain that a true matriarchal society has ever existed, so matriarchy is usually treated as an imaginative concept. But there are societies in which relatedness through women rather than men is stressed, and elements of matriarchy may be stronger in certain societies than they are in most of the Western world. And most of us can point to families in which a woman has become the dominant figure, or grande dame, or matriarch.

Examples of matriarch in a Sentence

Our grandmother was the family's matriarch. The tribe's matriarch ruled for 20 years before her death.
Recent Examples on the Web The Scorpio daughter of a Leo-Virgo-cusp mother learns discipline from her matriarch’s marital dysfunction, Barbie is diagnosed with PTSD, and a family’s food processing is financed with flesh. Tiana Reid, Vulture, 31 Aug. 2021 For 18 long days in Florida, the Spiegel family waited for news of their beloved matriarch, Judy. New York Times, 10 Aug. 2021 When the shooting stopped, Rhonda and Donnell Woods turned toward their family matriarch. Washington Post, 7 Aug. 2021 As rotating teams of rescuers continued to use heavy machinery and power tools to clear the rubble from the top and tunnel in from below, the Noriega family hoped that their 92-year-old matriarch Hilda Noriega had somehow survived. Time, 27 June 2021 When the State Fair of Texas was canceled in 2020, the news came as a relief to family members who knew their matriarch wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, 21 June 2021 As friends post joyous pictures on social media about seeing their own moms after the pandemic kept them apart, Mother’s Day might be especially difficult this year for those missing their family matriarch. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8 May 2021 O'Hara, 66, who has played the Rose family matriarch for Schitt's Creek's six season run, accepted her award among her cast and crew at a viewing party in Toronto. Andrea Wurzburger,, 21 Sep. 2020 The forthcoming restaurant’s working name is Lulu, in honor of Lulu Peyraud, the matriarch of the family that runs the Domaine Tempier vineyard in the Bandol region of southeastern France. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, 19 Aug. 2021

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

1606, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for matriarch

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The first known use of matriarch was in 1606

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Dictionary Entries Near matriarch

matres lectionis



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Statistics for matriarch

Last Updated

17 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Matriarch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of matriarch

: a woman who controls a family, group, or government


ma·​tri·​arch | \ ˈmā-trē-ˌärk How to pronounce matriarch (audio) \

Kids Definition of matriarch

: a woman who is the head of a family, group, or state

More from Merriam-Webster on matriarch

Nglish: Translation of matriarch for Spanish Speakers


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