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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. Of or pertaining to a patriarch or to patriarchs; possessed by, or subject to, patriarchs; as, patriarchal authority or jurisdiction; a patriarchal see; a patriarchal church.

2. Characteristic of a patriarch; venerable. About whose patriarchal knee Late the little children clung. (Tennyson)

3. (Science: ethnology) Having an organization of society and government in which the head of the family exercises authority over all its generations. Patriarchal cross, a cross, the shaft of which is intersected by two transverse beams, the upper one being the smaller. Patriarchal dispensation, the divine dispensation under which the patriarchs lived before the law given by Moses.

Origin: Cf. F. Patriarcal.