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

The 40,000-square-foot music hall broke ground in May 2017 and is named for the matriarch of the family, Sylvia Frank. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Wisconsin's The Sylvee Venue Unveils Initial Lineup, With Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats on Opening Night," 1 May 2018 But perhaps her condition won't be revealed until the show's finale, since Rebecca is the matriarch and all. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "The Craziest Season 3 'This Is Us' Fan Theories on the Internet," 19 Mar. 2019 Married more than 30 years ago on July 21, 1984, the Duggar family matriarch and patriarch waited four years to have their first child, Josh. Alicia Dennis,, "Do You Know Your Duggars? A Comprehensive Guide to the Giant Family," 28 June 2018 The family has gone through ups and downs, most recently matriarch Ami Brown’s lung cancer—and have relocated to the wilds of Washington state. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "‘Alaskan Bush People' Cast: How Well Do You Know the Brown Family?," 23 Sep. 2018 But for some such as Betty Oglesbee, who raised four boys in San Augustine and remains something of a town matriarch, cooking at home has always been part of life there. Emily Foxhall, Houston Chronicle, "Recipe: Betty Oglesbee's meatloaf," 20 June 2018 The characters in Kore-eda’s film, which took the top prize at Cannes, are jumbled together in multigenerational squalor (and include a bumbling grandmotherly matriarch, Hatsue). Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Shoplifters Is One of 2018’s Most Stunning Films," 28 Nov. 2018 And while that is certainly an exciting achievement, namely because the royal family was in attendance, Liam was actually able to briefly meet the royal matriarch herself, Queen Elizabeth II. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Liam Payne Shook the Queen’s Hand at the Commonwealth Day Service," 13 Mar. 2018 This time, the story centers around the matriarch of the Parr family, Elastagirl. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "13 reasons you'll be spending your summer at the movies," 17 May 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

16 Apr 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 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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a secret plot to overthrow a government

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