noun pa·tri·arch \ˈpā-trē-ˌärk\

Definition of patriarch

  1. 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 dinosaur — Amer. Guide Series: Texas (2) :  a venerable old man a whiskered patriarch, spry for his age — Frank Sullivand :  a man who is head of a patriarchy

  2. 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 bishopsb :  the head of any of various Eastern churchesc :  a Roman Catholic bishop next in rank to the pope with purely titular or with metropolitan (see 2metropolitan 1) jurisdiction

  3. 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

  1. Our grandfather was the family's patriarch.

  2. The tribe's patriarch ruled for 20 years before his death.

Origin and Etymology of 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

First Known Use: 13th century

Other Anthropology Terms

PATRIARCH Defined for Kids


noun pa·tri·arch \ˈpā-trē-ˌärk\

Definition of patriarch for Students

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

  2. 2 :  a respected old man

Word Root of patriarch

The Latin word pater, meaning “father,” and the Greek word patēr give us the root pater or patr. Anyone or anything paternal, such as an aunt or uncle, is related to one's father. A patriarch is a father and ruler of a family or tribe. A patriot is a person who loves his or her fatherland or country. A patron is a person who gives support and approval for a project or artist, as fathers support and approve of their children.

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