ma·​tri·​arch | \ˈmā-trē-ˌärk \

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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Other Words from matriarch

matriarchal \ ˌmā-​trē-​ˈär-​kəl \ adjective

Synonyms for matriarch


dame, dowager, grande dame, matron

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Did You Know?

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

First, matriarch Ami was treated for—and beat—lung cancer after having a very slim chance of survival. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "‘Alaskan Bush People’ Star Billy Brown Was Hospitalized After a Health Scare," 21 Oct. 2018 Family and friends will fondly remember Mary as a loving mother, awesome grandmother, great cook, and proud matriarch of the Fyles family. Hartford Courant,, "Mary Ann Fyles," 8 July 2018 There’s a big difference, however, between a bowl of soggy cereal, lukewarm coffee and paper napkins hastily assembled on a wobbly tray and the real, spoil-the-matriarch deal. Mieke Ten Have, WSJ, "Mother’s Day: How to Assemble a Truly Regal Breakfast Tray," 3 May 2018 Those who have followed any of the Hadids on Instagram for more than a month would know that this family - which also encompasses matriarch Yolanda and siblings Gigi and Anwar - absolutely loves horses. Sonia Rao,, "The Weeknd drops his EP 'My Dear Melancholy,' and it is, unsurprisingly, full of sadness," 30 Mar. 2018 Overlooking the hectic mise en place are Molina, the chef at downtown’s Everson Royce Bar, and Nancy Silverton, the matriarch behind Mozza and founder of La Brea Bakery. Danielle Bernabe, Los Angeles Magazine, "Chefs Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina Are Opening a Roman Pizza Spot in Highland Park," 16 Jan. 2018 And, hang on, who’s that snarling matriarch of the club scene with the shock of spiky hair? Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”," 4 June 2017 Columbia Pictures will produce the project, and Meryl Streep is in talks to star as the March matriarch. Rebecca Farley,, "Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet & Greta Gerwig May Reunite In New Movie," 29 June 2018 The reason this second definition jumps straight from a nurturing matriarch to something less nurturing-sounding can be found in the Oxford Dictionary. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "iPhone’s weirdest glitch yet: Ask Siri to define “mother” twice, learn a bad word," 29 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for matriarch

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for matriarch

The first known use of matriarch was in 1606

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More Definitions for matriarch



English Language Learners Definition of matriarch

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


ma·​tri·​arch | \ˈmā-trē-ˌärk \

Kids Definition of matriarch

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on matriarch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for matriarch

Spanish Central: Translation of matriarch

Nglish: Translation of matriarch for Spanish Speakers

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something that serves to warn or remind

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