pa·​tri·​arch | \ ˈpā-trē-ˌärk How to pronounce patriarch (audio) \

Definition of patriarch

1a : one of the scriptural fathers of the human race or of the Hebrew people Abraham was a patriarch of the Israelites.
b : a man who is father or founder The newspaper patriarch celebrated his 90th birthday.
c(1) : the oldest member or representative of a group the cypress … is the patriarch of native trees, going back to the time of the dinosaurAmer. Guide Series: Texas
(2) : a venerable old man a whiskered patriarch, spry for his age— Frank Sullivan
d : a man who is head of a patriarchy
2a : any of the bishops of the ancient or Eastern Orthodox sees of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem or the ancient and Western see of Rome with authority over other bishops
b : the head of any of various Eastern churches
c : a Roman Catholic bishop next in rank to the pope with purely titular or with metropolitan (see metropolitan entry 2 sense 1) jurisdiction
3 : a Mormon of the Melchizedek priesthood empowered to perform the ordinances of the church and pronounce blessings within a stake or prescribed jurisdiction

Examples of patriarch in a Sentence

Our grandfather was the family's patriarch. The tribe's patriarch ruled for 20 years before his death.
Recent Examples on the Web The patriarch, the grandfather, was a businessman, founding Ralston Purina. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "All-time beauties, &c.," 16 Oct. 2020 In one, a family mourns the loss of their patriarch with a Zoom funeral. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Netflix's Social Distance Is an Emotional—and Very Accurate—Portrayal of Our New Normal," 15 Oct. 2020 With their brewing business closed by Prohibition, Mr. Baum showed, the family patriarch, Adolph Coors, died by suicide. Washington Post, "Dan Baum, journalist who wrote of the flooded lives of New Orleans, dies at 64," 14 Oct. 2020 The patriarch, known as August Tampke, died in 1892., "Early San Antonio family’s burial ground survives in middle of North Central subdivision," 10 Oct. 2020 These experiences closely informed the plot of A Raisin in the Sun, which follows a black family’s struggle to better its prospects following the death of its patriarch. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Women Who Shaped the Past 100 Years of American Literature," 23 Sep. 2020 And members of the Hatfield family had their final moments with their 83-year-old patriarch, Gary, in a FaceTime call. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Losing family to COVID-19 is ‘much more traumatic to process.' These new Utah support groups are meant to help.," 15 Sep. 2020 The tense trailer follows an aging, affluent patriarch, Anthony (Hopkins), whose tragic decline into the grips of dementia sends his daughter, Anne (Colman), into emotional chaos prior to her impending move to Paris. Joey Nolfi,, "Olivia Colman, Anthony Hopkins set family drama ablaze in electric The Father trailer," 14 Sep. 2020 The New Orleans jazz patriarch died on April 1 at age 85. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "All the Musicians Who Have Spoken Out About Having Coronavirus," 6 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patriarch.' 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 patriarch

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for patriarch

Middle English patriarche, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin patriarcha, from Greek patriarchēs, from patria lineage (from patr-, patēr father) + -archēs -arch — more at father

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Time Traveler for patriarch

Time Traveler

The first known use of patriarch was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Patriarch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for patriarch


pa·​tri·​arch | \ ˈpā-trē-ˌärk How to pronounce patriarch (audio) \

Kids Definition of patriarch

1 : a man who heads a family, group, or government
2 : a respected old man

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