pa·tri·arch | \ˈpā-trē-ˌärk \

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 Frank patriarch tried multiple times to emigrate to the United States. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "Anne Frank’s family immigration efforts thwarted by restrictive policies, World War II," 6 July 2018 Joe Jackson, the patriarch of a legendary entertainment family the Jacksons, was laid to rest near his son, Michael, on Monday, according to multiple reports. Alexia Fernandez,, "Joe Jackson Laid to Rest in the Same Cemetery as Son Michael Following Private Funeral: Reports," 3 July 2018 According to reports, the 89-year-old patriarch planned to return to his home in Vegas but that may not be possible., "The Quick Read: Joe Jackson Is Spending Final Days Of His Life In Hospital," 27 June 2018 On June 25, the Bush patriarch welcomed a furry friend to his family named Sully H.W. Bush, a yellow Labrador service dog. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "George Bush Sr. Gets a Friendly Visit From Bill Clinton After a Particularly Difficult Year," 26 June 2018 One of the world’s biggest suppliers of assembly and fastening materials, Germany’s Würth Group, will not invest any more in the United States while President Donald Trump is in power, the patriarch of the Würth family has said. David Meyer, Fortune, "Germany's Billionaire 'Screw King' Tightens the Screws on the U.S.: No More Investment Until Trump Goes," 4 June 2018 The patriarch, Richard, 92, is the co-founder of Amway and a native of Grand Rapids. Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State's Tom Izzo a candidate for Orlando Magic coaching job?," 24 May 2018 But Bill, the family patriarch, is a climate change denier. Josh Haner, National Geographic, "The Last Cowboys: A Cattle-Ranching Family Fights to Survive," 29 June 2018 The Jackson family patriarch was born in 1928 and married wife Katherine in 1949. Ashley Iasimone, Billboard, "Joe Jackson, Father and Early Manager of the Jackson Family, Dies at 89: Report," 27 June 2018

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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Last Updated

22 Oct 2018

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

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pa·tri·arch | \ˈpā-trē-ˌärk \

Kids Definition of patriarch

1 : a man who heads a family, group, or government

2 : a respected old man

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Comments on patriarch

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a state of commotion or excitement

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