Definition of patriarchy in US English:


nounPlural patriarchies

  • 1A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.

    ‘the thematic relationships of the ballad are worked out according to the conventional archetypes of the patriarchy’
    • ‘Feminists now challenge patriarchy by tracing their descent through the female rather than the male line.’
    • ‘Overall male gain depends on the constant renewal of structures of male solidarity and patriarchy over-riding immediate economic or class interests.’
    • ‘What is being asked for is a fundamental transformation of social systems entrenched deep within the system of patriarchy.’
    • ‘The movie now takes on a starkly different aesthetic as it turns its focus to blood feuds, family honour, and tyrannical patriarchy.’
    • ‘The expression of patriarchy through male-surname dominance has robbed millions of women of their name identity.’
    1. 1.1 A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
      ‘the dominant ideology of patriarchy’
      • ‘In Europe, patriarchy flourished as institutions such as the family, the guild, and the university evolved to restrict or exclude women's presence and power.’
      • ‘But see it for what it is-the product of a society steeped in competition, sexism, racism and patriarchy.’
      • ‘It was argued that patriarchy was a worldwide system which reduced women to the status of housewives and made them dependent on men.’
      • ‘These apply to the political and personal meanings that associate power with the nature of men and the culture of patriarchy.’
      • ‘I am constantly trying to break free from the chains of male chauvinism and patriarchy.’
      • ‘Many women also face brutal exploitation in their families in third world countries, where patriarchy dominates and household labor is treated harshly.’
      • ‘She did not shy away from the barriers she often faced as a result of publicly identifying the structure of male patriarchy.’
      • ‘Gender seemed to be on the forefront of the discourse, largely because the organizers prominently recognized patriarchy as a main and integral force of oppression.’
      • ‘What bits of patriarchy, or male dominance, remain in western society?’
      • ‘Women and men exist as unequal political classes in the system of patriarchy, and so it is difficult to understand how love can truly exist between these two groups.’
      • ‘Feminists want to dismantle the patriarchy, she said.’
      • ‘Patriarchy is embedded in systems of education, healthcare, economic activity, social order and political representation.’
      • ‘I think the call for bras is successful because it is similar to the burning of bras in the seventies - each act being a response to male oppression / patriarchy.’
      • ‘The shrill feminist denunciations of male patriarchy share a common origin: the Marxist creed.’
      • ‘No longer considered sexually scandalous, its analyses of patriarchy and its proposed antidotes to women's domination are still debated.’
      • ‘Western feminism rests on the concept of patriarchy - the class system of male domination and female oppression.’
      • ‘For women it means fighting both religious and capitalist patriarchy.’
    2. 1.2 A society or community organized on patriarchal lines.
      ‘we live in a patriarchy’
      • ‘Many feminists argue that in patriarchies men maintain their power through violence and force.’
      • ‘But he's in a patriarchy where age counts so much.’
      • ‘The traditional Albanian household is a patriarchy in which the head of the household is the eldest male.’
      • ‘Additionally, we must analyze collusion between foreign and indigenous patriarchies under imperialism in exacerbating women's oppression.’
      • ‘Is it that these two patriarchies are uniting against a perceived common threat, free and independent women?’
      • ‘The play shows how, as usual in a patriarchy, it is the women who teach the next generation to submit.’
      • ‘We don't have to live according to the rules of the patriarchy.’
      • ‘The traditional Mongolian American household is a patriarchy in which the head of the household is the eldest male.’


Mid 17th century: via medieval Latin from Greek patriarkhia, from patriarkhēs ‘ruling father’ (see patriarch).