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

As matriarch of her family, Toundamje’s apartment on the Northwest Side is her grandchildren’s refuge. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio’s refugee community celebrates Fourth of July in safe haven; worry about families left back home," 3 July 2018 Ella Brennan, who was credited with creating nouvelle Creole cuisine at her Commander’s Palace restaurant and was the matriarch of a New Orleans family that owns more than a dozen restaurants, died May 31 at her home in New Orleans. Washington Post, "Ella Brennan, matriarch of New Orleans restaurant family, dies at 92," 2 June 2018 The matriarch of an American political dynasty died Tuesday at the age of 92. Editors, USA TODAY, "When you fly, the difference between life and death is a matter of inches," 18 Apr. 2018 Kardashian West, with her hair braided into cornrows, paired a glittering silver sequined skirt with a white a crop top, while the family matriarch, 62, opted for the white double-breasted blazer and black pants. Mike Miller,, "Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner Have a Girls Night Out at MTV Movie & TV Awards as Kylie Bails," 16 June 2018 And Barbara Bush, the matriarch of a presidential and politically connected family, was born. Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press, "Riley: Let's learn from the lessons Barbara Bush left behind," 20 Apr. 2018 The sole daughter, Beth (Kelly Reilly), more than keeps up her end, filling in for her late mother as family matriarch and doubling as a cutthroat business negotiator. Lynn Elber, The Christian Science Monitor, "TV series 'Yellowstone' showcases Native American actors," 20 June 2018 The family’s matriarch has died, though her presence is felt as survivors make arrangements and get things in order. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Review: Insanely scary 'Hereditary' isn't easy to shake off," 7 June 2018 The bathroom contains a full size tub for the matriarch’s morning bath, and per Royal Central, operators are sure to slow down around 7:30 a.m. to make sure the water doesn’t splash everywhere during her soak. Dana Rose Falcone,, "Queen Elizabeth and Meghan Will Have a Sleepover Aboard the Royal Train for First Outing Together," 6 June 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

15 Oct 2018

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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

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