Matriarch | Definition of Matriarch by Merriam-Webster


ma·​tri·​arch | \ ˈmā-trē-ˌärk How to pronounce matriarch (audio) \

Definition of matriarch

: a woman who rules or dominates a family, group, or state specifically : a mother who is head and ruler of her family and descendants Our grandmother was the family's matriarch.

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Other Words from matriarch

matriarchal \ ˌmā-​trē-​ˈär-​kəl How to pronounce matriarchal (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for matriarch


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Did You Know?

A matriarchy is a social unit governed by a woman or group of women. It isn't certain that a true matriarchal society has ever existed, so matriarchy is usually treated as an imaginative concept. But there are societies in which relatedness through women rather than men is stressed, and elements of matriarchy may be stronger in certain societies than they are in most of the Western world. And most of us can point to families in which a woman has become the dominant figure, or grande dame, or matriarch.

Examples of matriarch in a Sentence

Our grandmother was the family's matriarch. The tribe's matriarch ruled for 20 years before her death.
Recent Examples on the Web Rodoula Loizides, matriarch of George’s Greek Cafe family, died just five days after her husband George. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Will the power go out again today?," 23 Oct. 2019 Barkin portrayed the tough matriarch at the center of the crime-loving Cody clan for all four seasons of the TNT drama, which has been renewed for a fifth season (presumably without her). Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, "Ellen Barkin Exits CAA for Gersh (Exclusive)," 14 Aug. 2019 Barbara Bush, the fierce and beloved matriarch of the Bush family, died at the age of 92 on Tuesday. Time, "See Barbara and George H.W. Bush's Historically Long Love Story in Photos," 17 Apr. 2018 To fully appreciate the prank master — who turns 64 today — take a look back at Jenner’s most genius pranks that prove the matriarch of the Kardashian-Jenner family is not someone to mess with. Diane J. Cho,, "The Top 5 Greatest Kris Jenner Pranks of All Time," 5 Nov. 2019 And holding forth as the sage family matriarch is their grandmother, Muriel (Anne Reid). Mark Dawidziak,, "‘Years and Years’ takes a disturbing look into the near future," 21 June 2019 Nova, the matriarch of the zoo's dolphin pod, is the new calf's grandmother. Joe Tamborello, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis Zoo welcomes a baby dolphin. And it's adorable.," 21 June 2019 The matriarch of the Lyons family is Muriel (Anne Reid), the spiky, wonderful grandmother of four siblings who are still in her life. Matthew Gilbert,, "HBO drama ‘Years and Years’ puts a human face on a disturbing future," 20 June 2019 His sister, the matriarch and a devout Catholic, has been verbally and emotionally abusive to me. Abigail Van Buren, Twin Cities, "Dear Abby: Wealthy man’s companion is shut out of family holidays," 14 June 2019

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

1606, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for matriarch

Time Traveler

The first known use of matriarch was in 1606

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Statistics for matriarch

Last Updated

26 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

Matriarch.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for matriarch


How to pronounce matriarch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of matriarch

: a woman who controls a family, group, or government


ma·​tri·​arch | \ ˈmā-trē-ˌärk How to pronounce matriarch (audio) \

Kids Definition of matriarch

: a woman who is the head of a family, group, or state

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More from Merriam-Webster on matriarch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for matriarch

Spanish Central: Translation of matriarch

Nglish: Translation of matriarch for Spanish Speakers

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