1. A man who rules a family, clan, or tribe.
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.
3. Used formerly as a title for the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria.
4. Roman Catholic Church A bishop who holds the highest episcopal rank after the pope.
5. Eastern Orthodox Church Any one of the bishops of the sees of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Moscow, and Jerusalem who has authority over other bishops.
6. Judaism The head of the Sanhedrin in Syrian Palestine from about 180 BC to AD 429.
7. Mormon Church A high dignitary of the priesthood empowered to invoke blessings.
8. One who is regarded as the founder or original head of an enterprise, organization, or tradition.
9. A very old, venerable man; an elder.
10. The oldest member of a group: the patriarch of the herd.
[Middle English patriarche, from Old French, from Late Latin patriarcha, from Greek patriarkhēs : patriā, lineage (from patēr, patr-, father; see pəter- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + -arkhēs, -arch.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.