pa·​tri·​ar·​chy | \ ˈpā-trē-ˌär-kē How to pronounce patriarchy (audio) \
plural patriarchies

Definition of patriarchy

1 : social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power
2 : a society or institution organized according to the principles or practices of patriarchy For 20 years the country was ruled as a patriarchy.

Examples of patriarchy in a Sentence

For 20 years, the country was ruled as a patriarchy. a region in which patriarchy is practiced

Recent Examples on the Web

At 60, Madonna is looking good, performing energetically, making music, raising kids, posting on social media about fighting the patriarchy, and willing to take on any reporter who obsesses over her age. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Humans don’t actually want to be immortal, we just want to be forever young," 27 June 2019 Paul’s defense of slavery, patriarchy and imperial power are used to sanctify an unjust status quo. Jonathan L. Walton, Time, "Why Authoritarians Love to Quote This Bible Passage," 22 June 2018 Broadway artists love to complain about the grip of the patriarchy. Chris Jones,, "Terrence McNally's lifetime award speech at the Tonys was ignored — but it was the most important of the night," 12 June 2019 What about women looking for gender equality, for change, not a silver lining peeking out from the patriarchy cloud looming overhead? Jules Barrueco, Glamour, "Moms Have Changed. It’s Time to Change Gifts for Them Too," 10 May 2019 Graves claimed that matriarchal culture came first, and was later erased by patriarchy. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Killing Eve's Fiona Shaw Knows Which Side Carolyn Martens Is On. She Knows a Lot, Actually.," 5 May 2019 Beyond the obvious fear of the unknown making magic marginalized, magic is extra badass because the patriarchy frowns upon it. Lisa Stardust, Teen Vogue, "How to Do Magic and Other Questions You Might Have About Being a Witch," 30 Apr. 2019 Witches join together to fight against the patriarchy, to implement rights for the LGBTQ community, and for feminist beliefs. Lisa Stardust, Teen Vogue, "How to Do Magic and Other Questions You Might Have About Being a Witch," 30 Apr. 2019 Such unruliness is a real threat to the patriarchy—especially because many of us childfree women have more free time to smash it. Therese Shechter, SELF, "Menopause Was the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me," 13 Mar. 2019

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

1632, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for patriarchy

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for patriarchy

The first known use of patriarchy was in 1632

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More Definitions for patriarchy



English Language Learners Definition of patriarchy

: a family, group, or government controlled by a man or a group of men
: a social system in which family members are related to each other through their fathers

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More from Merriam-Webster on patriarchy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with patriarchy

Spanish Central: Translation of patriarchy

Nglish: Translation of patriarchy for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about patriarchy

Comments on patriarchy

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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