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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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 As the eldest Crawley on Downton and the matriarch of the family, Smith's Dowager Countess never misses an opportunity to share her unvarnished opinion of what's happening at Downton. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Maggie Smith's All-Time Greatest Downton Abbey Zingers," 21 Sep. 2019 Cincinnati Enquirer Charges against Fredericka Wagner, the matriarch of the Wagner family which has been accused of murder in the deaths of the Rhoden family, were dismissed Wednesday afternoon. Cincinnati Enquirer,, "Pike County: Charges against Fredericka Wagner dismissed," 15 Nov. 2018 Patty, the matriarch of the Kansas City Zoo's chimpanzee troupe, has died. David Frese, kansascity, "One of the oldest female chimps in U.S. zoos dies in Kansas City at age 55 | The Kansas City Star," 13 Apr. 2018 Aunt March is elevated from stodgy caricature to a stately matriarch who may be tough but is never not astute. Lindsey Bahr, Twin Cities, "Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ is a new classic," 23 Dec. 2019 In the 1992 clip, an 11-year-old Bey is interviewed on stage by a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Kardashian-Jenner matriarch/Momager Supreme, Kris Jenner. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kris Jenner's Doppelganger Interviews a Young Beyoncé in This Vintage Clip from 1992," 14 Dec. 2019 Nahor’s granddaughter was Rebecca who would become the second matriarch. Rabbi Avi Weiss,, "The importance of the planters of the seeds of greatness," 4 Nov. 2019 And there’s a scene in which the rich matriarch skillfully winds noodles in a bowl while, in another room, duct tape is being wrapped around a victim and classical music plays. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Class warfare depicted brilliantly in ‘Parasite’," 8 Oct. 2019 The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' by Anissa Gray Althea, her family's eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with, and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. Ellen Piligian, Detroit Free Press, "Poetry, a cookbook and reflections on Detroit history make Michigan Notable Books list," 19 Jan. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of matriarch was in 1606

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Statistics for matriarch

Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Matriarch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce matriarch (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on matriarch

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Spanish Central: Translation of matriarch

Nglish: Translation of matriarch for Spanish Speakers

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