• synonyms


or mat·ri·lin·e·ar

[ma-truh-lin-ee-uh l, mey-]
  1. inheriting or determining descent through the female line.
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Compare patrilineal.

Origin of matrilineal

First recorded in 1900–05; matri- + lineal
Related formsmat·ri·lin·e·al·ly, mat·ri·lin·e·ar·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for matrilinear

Historical Examples

  • Dionysius is the Son of his Mother because he issues from a matrilinear group.

    Introduction to the Science of Sociology

    Robert E. Park

  • But are we sure that there is only one type of matrilinear succession?

  • Descent was matrilinear, and a society known as matriarchy existed, as contrasted to the later patriarchy.

  • These are the languages of the south central group of tribes with a 2-class system and matrilinear descent.

    Man, Past and Present

    Agustus Henry Keane

  • They still have a strong element of descent in the matrilinear line and women aren't second-class citizens.

    Border, Breed Nor Birth

    Dallas McCord Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for matrilinear


  1. relating to descent or kinship through the female line
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Derived Formsmatrilineally, adverb
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 matrilinear



"pertaining to or descended from the mother's side," 1897, from matri- + lineal. Related: Matrilineage; matrilineally.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

matrilinear in Medicine


  1. Relating to, based on, or tracing ancestral descent through the maternal line.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

matrilinear in Culture



Tracing kinship and descent through the female line. (Compare patrilineal.)

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.