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

The trio created a role for Mirren as the matriarch of a criminal family. Caitlin Brody, Glamour, "Helen Mirren Is Done With Roles That Make Women 'Feel Shitty'," 20 Sep. 2018 Walter, who stars as family matriarch Lucille Bluth opposite Tambor's patriarch George Oscar Bluth, Sr. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Jessica Walter tearfully talks Jeffrey Tambor harassing her," 24 May 2018 The KarJenner family is taking over the Met Gala red carpet — and staying true to her role as the matriarch of the family, Kris Jenner was the first to arrive. Jillian Ruffo,, "Kris Jenner Arrives at the 2018 Met Gala with Boyfriend Corey Gamble," 7 May 2018 The matriarch of the Brown family was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer, and was given a slim chance of survival. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "Inside 'Alaskan Bush People' Star Ami Brown's Scary Cancer Battle," 19 Aug. 2018 Even after five seasons of Southern Charm, viewers are still enthralled by the show's matriarch—and unlikely breakout star—Patricia Altschul. Luzanne Otte, Town & Country, "A Day in the Life of Southern Charm's Patricia Altschul," 12 July 2018 For the second year in a row, Mandy Moore was underappreciated as the matriarch of the family who had to keep it all together after beloved Jack (Ventimiglia) died. Danielle Turchiano,, "Emmy nominations: The biggest snubs and surprises," 12 July 2018 Comedy Store matriarch Mitzi Shore’s indelible mark on the Hollywood stand-up circuit was cemented long ago. Tracy Brown,, "'The Simpsons' executive producer responds to Apu controversy," 13 Apr. 2018 But for something special, book dinner at Landhaus Bacher, a family-run affair overseen for 30 years by matriarch-in-residence Lisl Wagner-Bacher. Sebastian Modak, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Way to Experience Austria's Wine Country Is By Bike," 7 Sep. 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

22 Jan 2019

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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

Comments on matriarch

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a complex dispute or argument

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