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See also: Patriarch


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Borrowed from Late Latin patriarcha; later reinforced by Old French patriarche, from Byzantine Greek πατριάρχης (patriárkhēs, the founder of the tribe/family), from Ancient Greek πατριά (patriá, generation, ancestry, descent, tribe, family) + -ᾰ́ρχης (-árkhēs, -arch), with some senses likely influenced directly by Latin pāter (father) or Ancient Greek πᾰτήρ (patḗr, father). Compare matriarch. Surface analysis patri- +‎ -arch.



patriarch (plural patriarchs)

  1. (Christianity) The highest form of bishop, in the ancient world having authority over other bishops in the province but now generally as an honorary title; in Roman Catholicism, considered a bishop second only to the Pope in rank. [from 9th c.]
  2. In Biblical contexts, a male leader of a family, tribe or ethnic group, especially one of the twelve sons of Jacob (considered to have created the twelve tribes of Israel) or (in plural) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. [from 13th c.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Acts II:
      Men and brethren, lett me frely speake unto you of the patriarke David: For he is both deed and buryed, and his sepulcre remayneth with us unto this daye.
  3. A founder of a political or religious movement, an organization or an enterprise. [from 16th c.]
  4. An old leader of a village or community.
    • 1819, Washington Irving, The Sketch Book, “Rip Van Winkle”:
      The opinions of this junto were completely controlled by Nicholas Vedder, a patriarch of the village, and landlord of the inn, at the door of which he took his seat from morning to night, just moving sufficiently to [] keep in the shade of a large tree; []
  5. The male progenitor of a genetic or tribal line, or of a clan or extended family.
    Synonyms: ancestor, forebear, forefather
  6. The male head of a household or nuclear family.
    Synonyms: highfather, paterfamilias





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patriarch m (plural patriarchen, diminutive patriarchje n, feminine matriarch)

  1. patriarch

Related terms[edit]