Definition of patriarch in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpeɪtrɪɑːk/


1The male head of a family or tribe.
Example sentences
  • The family patriarch makes all decisions regarding living arrangements, children's marriages, and money.
  • Is he not supposed to be a patriarch to his extended family?
  • The consequences - offending the family patriarch and causing the family financial hardship - are considered too large for the sake of a girl.
1.1An older man who is powerful within an organization: Hollywood’s reigning patriarch rose to speak
1.2The male founder of something: he’s the patriarch of all spin doctors
More example sentences
  • The death of three national patriarchs within such a short time has always been a suggestive theme.
  • He is the patriarch of a small, informally organized group engaged in psycho-historical studies.
2Any of those biblical figures regarded as fathers of the human race, especially Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their forefathers, or the sons of Jacob.
Example sentences
  • Both Jews and Muslims consider the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph as spiritual ancestors.
  • Our Sages attribute the origin of our three daily prayer services to our patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  • The biblical patriarch Jacob mourned over his son Joseph for 22 years, mistakenly believing that he had been killed by a wild animal.
senior figure, father, paterfamilias, leader, elder, grandfather;
guiding light, guru
3A bishop of one of the most ancient Christian sees (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and formerly Rome).
Example sentences
  • Christians there worshipped in Greek and were subject to the patriarch of Alexandria.
  • The former, a patriarch of Alexandria, could be hardly suspected of partiality to the enemies of Christianity.
  • The most powerful church leaders were the bishop of Rome, called the pope, in the West and the patriarch of Constantinople in the East.
3.1The head of an autocephalous or independent Orthodox Church: Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
More example sentences
  • The tsar was autocrat by divine right, sustained by the endorsement of the autonomous Orthodox church under its patriarch.
  • It was named after Evtimii Turnovski, a renowned religious and literary figure who lived during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and was a patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church from 1375 to 1393.
  • The alternative synod representatives said they would ask for the summoning of a church-people's council to elect a legitimate patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
3.2A Roman Catholic bishop ranking above primates and metropolitans and immediately below the Pope, often the head of a Uniate community: Patriarch of Venice
More example sentences
  • In 1953 he was made a cardinal and appointed patriarch of Venice.
  • When monasteries die out, the patriarch sells the property cheaply to pay his bills.
  • If Roncalli had died as patriarch of Venice, he certainly would not be widely remembered today.


Middle English: from Old French patriarche, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek patriarkhēs, from patria 'family' + arkhēs 'ruling'.

Words that rhyme with patriarch


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: patri|arch

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