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From Old French monarchie, from Late Latin monarchia, from Ancient Greek μοναρχία (monarkhía), from μόνος (mónos, only) + ἀρχή (arkhḗ, power, authority). Surface analysis: mon- (one”, “single) +‎ -archy (rule”, “command).



monarchy (countable and uncountable, plural monarchies)

  1. A government in which sovereignty is embodied within a single, today usually hereditary head of state (whether as a figurehead or as a powerful ruler).
    An absolute monarchy is a monarchy where the monarch is legally the ultimate authority in all temporal matters.
    A constitutional monarchy is a monarchy in which the monarch's power is legally constrained, ranging from where minor concessions have been made to appease certain factions to where the monarch is a figurehead with all real power in the hands of a legislative body.
  2. The territory ruled over by a monarch; a kingdom.
  3. A form of government where sovereignty is embodied by a single ruler in a state and his high aristocracy representing their separate divided lands within the state and their low aristocracy representing their separate divided fiefs.
  4. States based on a system of governance headed by a king or a queen.

Usage notes[edit]

Historically refers to a wide variety of systems with a single, nominally absolute ruler (compare autocracy, dictatorship), today primarily refers to and connotes a traditional, hereditary position, often with mainly symbolic power. Typically used of rulers who use the terms king/queen or emperor/empress.


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  • IPA(key): /mɔˈnar.xɨ/
  • Rhymes: -arxɨ
  • Syllabification: mo‧nar‧chy



  1. genitive singular of monarcha