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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Other Words from matriarch

matriarchal \ ˌmā-​trē-​ˈär-​kəl How to pronounce matriarchal (audio) \ 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

MacDowell is a hilariously mercurial matriarch, and Adam Brody adds to his terrific work in Shazam! by giving the role of Alex’s screwup brother a sardonic edge. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Ready or Not Puts a Comic Twist on a Deadly Game of Hide-and-Seek," 22 Aug. 2019 With only three episodes left to redeem Monterey's most meme-able matriarch, here's hoping the writers sharpen their pencils. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "Meryl Streep is the worst thing about 'Big Little Lies' Season 2. What happened?," 1 July 2019 Úrsula is the wise Buendía family matriarch, Remedios an innocent who wanders around naked. Maria L. La Ganga,, "What's L.A. reading? Our habits are as diverse as the city itself," 6 June 2019 Because of Amy's hesitancy, some TLC fans have taken it upon themselves to pressure the Roloff matriarch (even though the season airing right now has already been filmed). Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Little People, Big World' Star Amy Roloff Posts Cryptic Comment About Matt and Roloff Farms," 23 May 2019 There's something here for every matriarch, including moms that seem to have everything, eco-friendly moms, moms that love beauty, cool moms, and moms who love to travel, so keep scrolling! Teen Vogue, "15 Mother's Day Gifts for Every Type of Mom," 2 May 2019 Logan is not amused, and neither is PMG matriarch Nan Pierce, who’s sitting in the audience. Rey Mashayekhi, Fortune, "‘Succession’ Recap, S2E6: Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish," 16 Sep. 2019 Placed under federal protection in Madea’s Southern home, a Wall Street banker and his dysfunctional family get a taste of the no-nonsense matriarch’s special brand of tough love. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 Keeley Hawes, who plays the role of the Durrell matriarch Louisa, and also serves as an executive producer on the series has also spoken out about wrapping up the show. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The Durrells in Corfu," 23 July 2019

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 2019

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 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

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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to be made up of

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