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 ball contacts nothing but Zac’s or Brooks’s hands; clean catches and throws are natural in a family whose patriarch was the 2006 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Andy Benoit,, "24 Hours ... With Bengals Coach Zac Taylor," 25 July 2019 The patriarch of a family committed to supporting North Texas, Mr. Perot truly was one of a kind. Cheryl Hall, Dallas News, "Tributes to Ross Perot come from far and wide," 9 July 2019 Tommy’s father also told WDRB that the heartbroken patriarch was planning a large-scale, out-of-town search for his daughter the week after he was killed. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Crystal Rogers' mother suspects boyfriend for her disappearance in doc: 'You don't know what kind of monsters live there'," 24 Aug. 2018 When the 92-year-old patriarch of modern Malaysia stiffly alights, he is greeted the chant: long live Mahathir. Laignee Barron / Kedah, Time, "Mahathir Mohamad’s Last Stand: Malaysia's Aging Strongman Seeks to Unseat His Protégé," 8 May 2018 Kim Dae-jung, the patriarch of South Korea’s progressive movement, traveled to Pyongyang in 2000 to meet then-leader Kim Jong Il, the current leader’s father. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "South Korea is sparing no effort to make summit with Kim a made-for-TV success," 25 Apr. 2018 Drama is plentiful in Succession, which follows the backstabbing, ultra-rich adult children of the Roy family, who, along with Rupert Murdoch-like patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox), control one of the world’s largest media conglomerates. Paula Bernstein, Fortune, "What TV Shows to Watch This August: From ‘BH90210’ and ‘GLOW’ to ‘Mindhunter’ and More," 1 Aug. 2019 And not surprisingly, the future Pearson patriarch will face challenges of reclamation and compartmentalization. Dan Snierson,, "This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia on post-war Jack in season 4: 'Grenades are still going off'," 31 July 2019 The Maverick Whiskey Distillery has been open just a few days, but its roots stretch back to before 1836 and the fall of the Alamo when family patriarch Sam Maverick sold whiskey brought to Texas from his family’s distillery in the Carolinas. Richard A. Marini,, "Maverick Whiskey Distillery transformed a historic downtown bank," 30 July 2019

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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Statistics for patriarch

Last Updated

27 Aug 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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Comments on patriarch

What made you want to look up patriarch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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