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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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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.

2. 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)

Origin: F. Patriarche, L. Patriarcha, Gr, fr. Lineage, especially on the father's side, race; father _ a leader, chief, fr. To lead, rule. See Father, Archaic.