AskDefine | Define patriarch

Dictionary Definition



1 title for the heads of the Eastern Orthodox Churches (in Istanbul and Alexandria and Moscow and Jerusalem)
2 the male head of family or tribe [syn: paterfamilias]
3 any of the early Biblical characters regarded as fathers of the human race
4 a man who is older and higher in rank than yourself

User Contributed Dictionary



From Ancient Greek πατριάρχης (patriarches) "the founder of the tribe/family", from πατριά (patria) "generation, ancestry, descent, tribe, family" + αρχή (arkhee) "start, found, first cause, power, rule, dominion".


  1. A male leader of a family, a tribe or an ethnic or religious group.
  2. A founder of a political or religious movement, an organization or an enterprise.
  3. Abraham, his son Isaac or his grandson Jacob. see Wikipedia
  4. The highest form of bishop, generally in charge of an ethnic community, but in terms of the pope and the ecumenical patriarch, the former is the Patriarch of the West and the latter is the Patriarch of the East, a divison dating to the Emperor Constantine the Great. The cities of Antioch, Alexandria, and almost as an afterthought, Jerusalem are accorded equal historical if not ecclesial dignity. Any and all other patriarchs, particularly that of the Russian church, are inferior.
  5. (Bible Dictionary) Patriarch is an ordained office in the Melchizedek Priesthood. The fathers from Adam to Jacob were all patriarchs of this kind. The word as used in the Bible seems to denote also a title of honor to early leaders of the Israelites, such as David (Acts 2:29) and the 12 sons of Jacob (Acts 7:8-9). The word is of Greek derivation and means father-ruler; the Hebrew translation simply means father.


See also

Extensive Definition

Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a composition of (pater) meaning "father" and (archon) meaning "leader", "chief", "ruler", "king", etc.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are referred to as the three patriarchs of the people of Israel, and the period in which they lived is called the Patriarchal Age. It originally acquired its religious meaning in the Septuagint version of the Bible.
The word has mainly taken on specific ecclesiastical meanings. In particular, the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic Church (above Major Archbishop and primate), and the Assyrian Church of the East are called patriarchs. The office and ecclesiastical conscription (comprising one or more provinces, though outside his own (arch)diocese he is often without enforceable jurisdiction) of such a patriarch is called a patriarchate. Historically, a Patriarch may often be the logical choice to act as Ethnarch, representing the community that is identified with his religious confession within a state or empire of a different creed (as Christians within the Ottoman Empire).

Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East

Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East

Patriarch of the Nasrani (Assyrian) Church of the East

Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Churches

see: Eastern Orthodoxy

Patriarchs of the Roman Catholic Church

see: Roman Catholic Church
As part of the Pentarchy, the Pope's Patriarchate of Rome was the only one in the Western Roman empire. It was roughly coterminous with present territory of the Latin Rite. In the past popes have used the title Patriarch of the West. However, this title was removed from a reference publication issued by the Vatican in 2006.

Latin Rite Patriarchs

These titles are honorary and carry no actual Patriarchal authority:

Historical Patriarchs in the Roman Catholic Church

Other Catholic Patriarchs


According to Mormonism, a patriarch is one who has been ordained to the office of Patriarch in the Melchizedek Priesthood. The term is considered synonymous with the term evangelist. One of the patriarch's primary responsibilities is to give Patriarchal blessings, as Jacob did to his twelve sons in the Old Testament. In the main branch of Mormonism, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Patriarchs are typically assigned in each stake and hold the title for life.


patriarch in Arabic: بطريرك
patriarch in Bulgarian: Патриарх
patriarch in Czech: Patriarchát (územní členění církve)
patriarch in Danish: Patriark (titel)
patriarch in German: Patriarch
patriarch in Estonian: Patriarh
patriarch in Modern Greek (1453-): Πατριάρχης
patriarch in Spanish: Patriarca
patriarch in Esperanto: Patriarko
patriarch in French: Patriarche (religion)
patriarch in Korean: 총대주교
patriarch in Indonesian: Patriark
patriarch in Icelandic: Patríarki
patriarch in Italian: Patriarca (cristianesimo)
patriarch in Hebrew: פטריארך
patriarch in Latin: Patriarcha
patriarch in Latvian: Patriarhs
patriarch in Hungarian: Pátriárka
patriarch in Dutch: Patriarch
patriarch in Japanese: 総主教
patriarch in Norwegian: Patriark
patriarch in Polish: Patriarcha
patriarch in Portuguese: Patriarca
patriarch in Romanian: Patriarh
patriarch in Russian: Патриарх (церковный сан)
patriarch in Simple English: Patriarch
patriarch in Slovak: Patriarcha (cirkev)
patriarch in Slovenian: Patriarh
patriarch in Serbian: Патријарх
patriarch in Finnish: Patriarkka
patriarch in Swedish: Patriark (kyrkligt ämbete)
patriarch in Turkish: Patrik
patriarch in Ukrainian: Патріарх (християнство)
patriarch in Chinese: 宗主教

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Aaronic priesthood, Father Time, Grand Penitentiary, Holy Father, Melchizedek priesthood, Methuselah, Nestor, Old Paar, Seventy, abba, abuna, ancestors, antecedents, antediluvian, antipope, antique, apostle, archbishop, archdeacon, architect, archpriest, ascendants, author, back number, bishop, bishop coadjutor, boss, bwana, canon, cardinal, cardinal bishop, cardinal deacon, cardinal priest, centenarian, chaplain, chef, chief, church dignitary, coadjutor, conservative, creator, curate, dad, daddy, deacon, dean, diocesan, dodo, dotard, ecclesiarch, elder, elders, employer, exarch, father, fathers, fogy, forebears, forefathers, fossil, foster father, founder, fud, fuddy-duddy, gaffer, geezer, generator, genitor, golden-ager, goodman, governor, gramps, grandfather, grandfathers, grandparents, grandsire, granny, graybeard, guru, has-been, hierarch, high priest, husband, inventor, liege, liege lord, longhair, lord, lord paramount, maker, master, matriarch, metropolitan, mid-Victorian, mossback, nonagenarian, octogenarian, old believer, old chap, old codger, old crock, old dodo, old dog, old duffer, old fogy, old geezer, old gent, old gentleman, old liner, old man, old party, old poop, old woman, old-timer, older, oldster, originator, overlord, pa, padrone, pantaloon, pap, papa, pappy, paramount, pater, paterfamilias, patriarchs, patron, penitentiary, pontiff, pop, pope, pops, prebendary, predecessors, prelate, presbyter, priest, primate, progenitors, rabbi, reactionary, rector, regular old fogy, relic, rural dean, sahib, seigneur, seignior, senior citizen, septuagenarian, sexagenarian, sire, square, starets, stepfather, subdean, suffragan, teacher, the old man, the quiet-voiced elders, traditionalist, venerable sir, veteran, vicar
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