Definition of matriarch in English:



  • 1A woman who is the head of a family or tribe.

    ‘in some cultures the mother proceeds to the status of a matriarch’
    • ‘We are becoming the family patriarchs and matriarchs and the mantle sits uneasily on our shoulders.’
    • ‘Then there's The Boss - the matriarch of the family, a lovely lady and very much the driving force behind the restaurant.’
    • ‘The village council or the matriarch / patriarch of the clan decided how this connection took place.’
    • ‘Historically, soap storylines built around families, matriarchs, and patriarchs have not been diverse.’
    • ‘We arrived in Mallaig just before 9am, posted a card to the family matriarch, and set off home.’
    • ‘She is the matriarch of the big family - she has 10 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.’
    • ‘The assumption that the Windsor matriarch, alone of her tribe, offered a symbol impervious to scepticism, reproach, censure, even simple boredom, has been dispelled.’
    • ‘Their 500-acre farm in Plainfield has been in the family since the family matriarch, Doris, was a child.’
    • ‘Here was mummy, the matriarch, whose strength had sustained us for so many years, her own health now in limbo.’
    • ‘The ceremony completed, the matriarch led her family into the sunset.’
    • ‘When she feels threatened, an elephant matriarch will group her family in defensive position, which prevents foraging.’
    • ‘The Royal Family will possibly now look to the Queen to fill the role that the Queen Mother had so successfully undertaken over the previous decades, as the family matriarch, unifier and guide.’
    • ‘For all those families whose matriarchs have even the slightest leaning towards growing all things green, there's hope here.’
    • ‘The legend goes that Karni Mata, a mystic matriarch from the 14th century, was an incarnation of Durga, the goddess of power and victory.’
    • ‘Better by far to humbly defer to the family matriarch for the perfect dish.’
    • ‘But now I am happily married to a powerful matriarch and all the potency of my other heterosocial relationships has evaporated.’
    • ‘The matriarch of the family today got herself a literary agent.’
    • ‘‘Well, of course they did, you're the matriarch of the family,’ I responded.’
    • ‘But there are many very strong women and powerful matriarchs who wield all practical control.’
    • ‘The dying matriarch of the family has set off a battle between her descendants for control of the estate.’
    1. 1.1An older woman who is powerful within a family or organization.
      ‘a domineering matriarch’
      • ‘There's nothing quite like a domineering matriarch to fall in love with and Streep not only neuters her on-screen male counterparts but the audience as well.’
      • ‘No longer were massive and wise old matriarchs leading the family units.’
      • ‘The organization contributed to the development of the matriarch of Philly basketball.’
      • ‘Strong, beautiful and powerful matriarchs of your societies, historically it has been you who have lost the most by not discussing this issue.’
      • ‘In literature and film, she has been portrayed as a powerful matriarch within the confines of the miner's home and family.’


Early 17th century: from Latin mater mother, on the false analogy of patriarch.