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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Synonyms for matriarch


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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 Newborn elephants are welcomed into a family group led by a strong matriarch. Bridget E. Hamilton, National Geographic, "Amazing animal dads," 16 June 2020 Birthdays: Katherine Jackson, matriarch of the Jackson musical family, is 90., "This day in history," 4 May 2020 Deadline reports that Fox is considering greenlighting a spinoff following Henson’s character Cookie Lyon, the matriarch of the fierce family. Keyaira Boone, Essence, "Lee Daniels Says He's 'Heartbroken' He Can't Shoot 'Empire' Finale Due To COVID-19," 15 Apr. 2020 The matriarch of the beloved TV family on Schitt’s Creek has been called a couture queen, and not just for her monochromatic, high-end fashion sense. Kathleen Newman-bremang,, "The Making Of Moira Rose: Schitt’s Creek’s Glam Team On Transforming Catherine O’Hara," 8 Apr. 2020 Anna Cordell plays matriarch Gloria Sparks, and Nick Stahl (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, In the Bedroom) her son, Jimmy Sparks. Karen Bliss, Billboard, "The Lumineers Explore Addiction and Dysfunction In 'III,' a Three-Chapter Visual Exploration of Their New Album," 26 Sep. 2019 Wu plays the matriarch and tiger mother par excellence Jessica Huang, a spirited and indefensibly blunt woman whose fierce devotion to her children is matched only by her uncompromising expectations for them. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "Constance Wu’s Hollywood Destiny," 16 Sep. 2019 Emmy Rossum, who played matriarch Fiona Gallagher, departed last season. Tracy Swartz,, "‘Shameless’ cast returning to Chicago next week to film Season 10," 22 Aug. 2019 The Kardashian-Jenner matriarch, also on the call, shares that her biggest beauty regret is not having taken her daughter's beauty advice more seriously. Thatiana Diaz,, "Kim Kardashian West Is Going Above & Beyond With This Year’s Mother’s Day Gift," 15 Apr. 2020

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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Last Updated

24 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

Matriarch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

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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

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Spanish Central: Translation of matriarch

Nglish: Translation of matriarch for Spanish Speakers

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