Definition of matrifocal in English:



  • (of a society, culture, etc.) based on the mother as the head of the family or household.

    • ‘Latin American families which are often extended and matrifocal often appear in the media or popular literature as being ‘deviant’ or ‘in crisis.’’
    • ‘For others, Vietnam's pantheon of goddesses represents particularly telling evidence of the nation's ancient roots in a matrifocal culture.’
    • ‘In the matrifocal household type, kinship rules stress matrilinear descent.’
    • ‘These matrifocal tendencies indicated a ‘low level’ of culture, their persistence a decadent survival from the past.’
    • ‘Children are cared for within the domestic unit of family, which tends to be matrifocal.’
    • ‘Alternative models of family, including a matrifocal family or a single-parent household, are rendered pathological.’
    • ‘No where in Mexico - or anywhere else in Latin America - has a matrifocal culture like this come into being.’
    • ‘These women are the closest equivalent it has to matrifocal heads of households.’
    • ‘The matrifocal, multigeneration family is typical.’
    • ‘Gorillas are strongly patrifocal, Chimpanzees are matrifocal, and Bonobos seem to enjoy a sort of free-love, hippy-communal existence.’
    • ‘Shifting from the matrifocal, he also recognizes the gift of courage and acuity from his grandfather, and he mentions his debt to his intellectual father.’
    • ‘They are generally seen as a matrifocal society (where women are central to family life).’
    • ‘In the past, villages were endogamous, somewhat matrifocal units.’
    • ‘Journeying to Malta with other women provides an opportunity to encounter these sacred mysteries and reconnect with our matrifocal roots.’
    • ‘There is a long matrifocal history of single female-headed households, which since 1975 have been heavily subsidized through government family allowance funds.’
    • ‘Like many African families, these Creole families are matrifocal, centering on the mother's lineage, with strong traditions of women working outside of the home.’
    • ‘The writings in the last half of the century have provided a consistent matrifocal perspective.’
    • ‘This matrifocal arrangement placed women as heads of the households.’
    • ‘Their social organisation is loosely bilateral with a matrifocal bias.’
    • ‘In cases of extramarital unions, consensual unions, divorce, death, and abandonment, matrifocal households are common.’


1950s: from Latin mater, matr- mother + focal.