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See more synonyms for matriarch on Thesaurus.com
  1. the female head of a family or tribal line.
  2. a woman who is the founder or dominant member of a community or group.
  3. a venerable old woman.
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Origin of matriarch

First recorded in 1600–10; matri- + -arch
Related formsma·tri·ar·chal, ma·tri·ar·chic, adjectivema·tri·ar·chal·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for matriarchal


  1. a woman who dominates an organization, community, etc
  2. the female head of a tribe or family, esp in a matriarchy
  3. a very old or venerable woman
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Derived Formsmatriarchal or rare matriarchic, adjectivematriarchalism, noun

Word Origin

C17: from matri- + -arch, by false analogy with patriarch
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

Word Origin and History for matriarchal


1780 (in reference to bee colonies); see matriarch + -al (1); "patterned after patriarchy" [Barnhart]. Related: Matriarchally.

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"mother who heads a family or tribe," c.1600, from matri- + -arch, abstracted from patriarch.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper