• 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.
  • 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.
  • A founder of a political or religious movement, an organization or an enterprise.
  • An old leader of a village or community.
  • The male progenitor of a genetic or tribal line, or of a clan or extended family.
  • The male head of a household or nuclear family.


Opposite words


  • From Middle English patriark, patriarche, from Late Latin patriarcha; later reinforced by Old French patriarche, from Byzantine Greek πατριάρχης ("the founder of the tribe/family"), from Ancient Greek πατριά ("generation, ancestry, descent, tribe, family") + -ᾰ́ρχης, with some senses likely influenced directly by Latin pāter or Ancient Greek πᾰτήρ. Compare matriarch. Surface analysis patri- + -arch.

Modern English dictionary

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