- the father and ruler of a family or tribe, as one of the founders of the ancient Hebrew families: in the Bible, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob's twelve sons were patriarchs
- a person regarded as the founder or father of a colony, religion, business, etc.
- a man of great age and dignity
- the oldest individual of a class or group
- a bishop in the early Christian Church, esp. a bishop of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, or Jerusalem
- R.C.Ch. the pope (Patriarch of the West), or any of certain bishops ranking immediately after him, as the bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem
- Eastern Orthodox Ch. the highest-ranking bishop at Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Bucharest, etc.
- the jurisdictional head of any of certain other churches, as the Coptic, Nestorian, Armenian, etc.
- Mormon Ch. a high-ranking member of the Melchizedek priesthood
Origin of patriarchMiddle English patriarche ; from Old French ; from Ecclesiastical Late Latin patriarcha ; from Ecclesiastical Greek patriarch?s (transl. of Classical Hebrew (language) roshe-avot) ; from Classical Greek patria, family ; from pat?r, father + -arch?s ; from archein, to rule
- A man who rules a family, clan, or tribe.
- Bible a. One of the antediluvian progenitors of the human race, from Adam to Noah.b. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or any of Jacob's 12 sons, the eponymous progenitors of the 12 tribes of Israel.
- Used formerly as a title for the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria.
- Roman Catholic Church A bishop who holds the highest episcopal rank after the pope.
- Eastern Orthodox Church Any one of the bishops of the sees of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Moscow, and Jerusalem who has authority over other bishops.
- Judaism The head of the Sanhedrin in Syrian Palestine from about 180 BC to AD 429.
- Mormon Church A high dignitary of the priesthood empowered to invoke blessings.
- One who is regarded as the founder or original head of an enterprise, organization, or tradition.
- A very old, venerable man; an elder.
- The oldest member of a group: the patriarch of the herd.
Origin of patriarchMiddle English patriarche, from Old French, from Late Latin patriarcha, from Greek patriarkh&emacron;s : patri&amacron;, lineage (from pat&emacron;r, patr-, father; see p&schwa;ter- in Indo-European roots) + -arkh&emacron;s, -arch.
- (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.]
- 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.]
- A founder of a political or religious movement, an organization or an enterprise. [from 16th c.]
- An old leader of a village or community.
- The male head of a tribal line or family.