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

Mr Erker discovered that the then patriarch, Albert, and his son were early and ardent supporters of Adolf Hitler. The Economist, "Germany’s business barons are finding it harder to keep a low profile," 15 June 2019 The residence so enchanted them that, when its patriarch became too aged to maintain the house, the couple purchased it. Jorge Arango, House Beautiful, "Can You Spot All the Bunnies in this Cottage?," 22 May 2019 Claire manages to convince patriarch Herr Mueller that the Cherokee mean no harm, but everything falls apart a few day later when his family (including the sweet new baby) contracts the measles and die. Mehera Bonner, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 6 Biggest Reveals from 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 5," 3 Dec. 2018 The Guerrero family, which also included patriarch Gory Guerrero, as well as Hector and Mando Guerrero, is wrestling royalty, on a distant perch with the likes of the Hart family, Rhodes, and Von Erichs. Justin Barrasso,, "The Week in Wrestling: Kenny Omega Finally Reaches NJPW’s Pinnacle With Win Over Okada," 13 June 2018 Ward, the Valley Oaks patriarch, declined The Star's request for an interview. Rick Montgomery, kansascity, "Here's the beef: Missouri cattle feedlot wants to grow; Powell Gardens fears the stink | The Kansas City Star," 27 May 2018 Despite being dropped from the Amazon series, Tambor will appear in his role as the patriarch of the Bluth family at the center of Netflix's Arrested Development for its upcoming fifth season on May 29. Patrick Shanley, The Hollywood Reporter, "Jessica Walter Says Jeffrey Tambor Verbally Harassed Her on 'Arrested Development' Set," 23 May 2018 Ribeiro captioned the pic with a shout-out to the late James Avery, who played the larger-than-life Banks family patriarch, Uncle Phil. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Clueless Is the Latest Magical ’90s Reunion Captured Online," 25 Mar. 2019 Francis has continued his predecessors’ efforts at reconciling with the Orthodox church, and held a historic meeting with Kirill in 2016 in Cuba, the first between a pope and Russian patriarch in over a millennium. Washington Post, "Pope denounces ‘murderous indifference’ by powers in Mideast," 7 July 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

18 Jun 2019

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on patriarch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with patriarch

Spanish Central: Translation of patriarch

Nglish: Translation of patriarch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of patriarch for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about patriarch

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