Pa"tri*arch(p"tr*rk), n. [F. patriarche, L. patriarcha, Gr. paria`rchhs, fr. paria` lineage, especially on the father's side, race; path`r father + 'archo`s a leader, chief, fr. 'a`rchein to lead, rule. See Father, Archaic.] 1. The father and ruler of a family; one who governs his family or descendants by paternal right; -- usually applied to heads of families in ancient history, especially in Biblical and Jewish history to those who lived before the time of Moses.
(R. C. Ch. & Gr. Ch.) A dignitary superior to the order of archbishops; as, the
patriarch of Constantinople, of Alexandria, or of Antioch.
3. A venerable old man; an elder. Also used figuratively.
The patriarch hoary, the sage of his kith and the hamlet.Longfellow.
The monarch oak, the partiarch of trees.Dryde.
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