any system of persons or things ranked one above another.
government by ecclesiastical rulers.
the power or dominion of a hierarch.
an organized body of ecclesiastical officials in successive ranks or orders: the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
one of the three divisions of the angels, each made up of three orders, conceived as constituting a graded body.
Also called celestial hierarchy . the collective body of angels.
government by an elite group.
Linguistics. the system of levels according to which a language is organized, as phonemic, morphemic, syntactic, or semantic.
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.
- an·ti·hi·er·ar·chy, noun, plural an·ti·hi·er·ar·chies, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024
How to use hierarchy in a sentence
However, if you begin to look carefully at sentences, what you find is that they are organized in this hierarchy.Talking Is Throwing Fictional Worlds at One Another - Issue 89: The Dark Side | Kevin Berger | September 9, 2020 | Nautilus
Forbes was generally a pretty platooned place, and there was a hierarchy and knowledge was exchanged very judiciously in the ranks.‘Unstoppable innovator’: The meteoric rise of Meredith Kopit Levien, the next New York Times CEO | Steven Perlberg | August 19, 2020 | Digiday
Usually, at some point below board level, someone in the hierarchy doesn’t have time to think purely about organic non-brand clicks.
Upfronts upendedAs the playing field levels between the TV companies and the streaming platforms, the hierarchy for upfront negotiations has the potential to be upended.Streaming advertising’s tipping point: Viewership has shifted and ad dollars are expected to follow | Tim Peterson | July 16, 2020 | Digiday
We try to understand the ways in which hierarchies are created and maintained.Should America (and FIFA) Pay Reparations? (Ep. 426) | Stephen J. Dubner | July 16, 2020 | Freakonomics
Copies of the letter were sent to senior members of the church hierarchy and to the Soviet government.Remembering the Russian Priest Who Fought the Orthodox Church | Cathy Young | December 28, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
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 | THE DAILY BEAST
It was, I have to say, at the bottom of the hierarchy of royal honors, a British Empire Medal.
Information received from the different branches of the ISIS network is channeled up through a strict hierarchy.Darkness at Noon Prayers: Inside the Islamic Police State | Jamie Dettmer | November 5, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
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 | THE DAILY BEAST
Later still, for the same reason, when he was making his hierarchy stronger, he created him one of his new Dukes.Napoleon's Marshals | R. P. Dunn-Pattison
Under a Philippine hierarchy there would be a danger of the natives reverting to paganism and fetichism.The Philippine Islands | John Foreman
As our oldest member used to say, "A society without a hierarchy is like a house without a staircase."The Nabob | Alphonse Daudet
This hierarchy of all feudal seigniories existed in name only, never in fact.The Pilgrim's Shell or Fergan the Quarryman | Eugne Sue
Without sifting the nature of Beauty, without giving some definition of it, nobody can attempt to construct a hierarchy of Art.The Life of Mazzini | Bolton King
British Dictionary definitions for hierarchy
a system of persons or things arranged in a graded order
a body of persons in holy orders organized into graded ranks
the collective body of those so organized
a series of ordered groupings within a system, such as the arrangement of plants and animals into classes, orders, families, etc
government by an organized priesthood
- hierarchical or hierarchic, adjective
- hierarchically, adverb
- hierarchism, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012