noun, plural hi·er·ar·chies.
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Origin of hierarchy
historical usage of hierarchy
The Medieval Latin word originally meant “rank or dignity of a hierarch (high-ranking religious leader)” in a system devised in the late 5th or early 6th century by the mystical theologian and philosopher Pseudo-Dionysius. The Greek word hierarchía is formed from hierós “holy, dedicated to a god, sacred, strong, excellent, glorious” and a derivative of the verb árchein “to be first, begin, rule.”
The earliest occurrence of hierarchy in English dates from the late 14th century in the sense “one of the three divisions of the angels into higher and lower ranks.” This meaning was quickly extended to other supernatural entities, and finally, in the 16th century, to “rule or dominion in holy matters, rule or government by priests, a system of ecclesiastical rule.” The sense “a group of people, plants, animals, or things ranked in grades, orders, or classes” dates from the 17th century.
OTHER WORDS FROM hierarchyan·ti·hi·er·ar·chy, noun, plural an·ti·hi·er·ar·chies, adjective
Words nearby hierarchy
Example sentences from the Web for hierarchy
Absolutely: “Courage I would rank now in the hierarchy of art and love.”Mailer’s Letters Pack a Punch and a Surprising Degree of Sweetness|Ronald K. Fried|December 14, 2014|DAILY BEAST
It was, I have to say, at the bottom of the hierarchy of royal honors, a British Empire Medal.
A strong sense of hierarchy took root as the schools expanded.At This Creepy Libertarian Charter School, Kids Must Swear ‘to Be Obedient to Those in Authority’|ProPublica|October 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Powell ranks with Patrick Smith in the hierarchy of Florida historical novelists and that is lofty territory, indeed.Book Bag: Overlooked Classic Books From the Sunshine State|Randy Wayne White|September 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
In the hierarchy of medical issues that carry stigma and fear, HPV has a unique place.
They have a schematic representation of the world, reduced to a hierarchy of general ideas, noted by symbols.Essay on the Creative Imagination|Th. Ribot
The lamas—that is, the hierarchy—were losing their hold on the people.Caravans By Night|Harry Hervey
And yet the hierarchy managed to maintain its assumptions and to overwhelm all remedial attempts.Luther and the Reformation:|Joseph A. Seiss
Though she disliked the Roman hierarchy as an institution, she counted many friends among the priests of Rome.Julia Ward Howe|Laura E. Richards
At once all the wrath of the hierarchy was unloosed upon him, and all its influence was thrown to the support of the Government.The Canadian Dominion|Oscar D. Skelton