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hierarchy

[hahy-uh-rahr-kee, hahy-rahr-] /ˈhaɪ əˌrɑr ki, ˈhaɪ rɑr-/
noun, plural hierarchies.
1.
any system of persons or things ranked one above another.
2.
government by ecclesiastical rulers.
3.
the power or dominion of a hierarch.
4.
an organized body of ecclesiastical officials in successive ranks or orders:
the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
5.
one of the three divisions of the angels, each made up of three orders, conceived as constituting a graded body.
6.
Also called celestial hierarchy. the collective body of angels.
7.
government by an elite group.
8.
Linguistics. the system of levels according to which a language is organized, as phonemic, morphemic, syntactic, or semantic.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; < Medieval Latin hierarchia < Late Greek hierarchía rule or power of the high priest, equivalent to hier- hier- + archía -archy; replacing Middle English jerarchie < Middle French ierarchie < Medieval Latin ierarchia, variant of hierarchia
Related forms
antihierarchy, noun, plural antihierarchies, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for hierarchies
  • Our city is bedeviled by such ingrained hierarchies.
  • They may be establishing breeding hierarchies for the coming mating season.
  • As with other social insects, it was once thought that workers were essentially equivalent in ant colony hierarchies.
  • Better communications would let troops act swiftly and with accurate intelligence, skirting creaky hierarchies.
  • Their academic hierarchies leave me sketching out organizational charts to try and make sense of it all.
  • The conventional academic hierarchies are quite muddled in the digital humanities.
  • hierarchies are everywhere evident in phenomenal experience.
  • Wolf packs are supposedly despotic hierarchies dominated by alpha wolves.
  • One reason for this acceleration is that company hierarchies are flatter than they used to be.
  • He also includes notes on how people handle food, family, friendship and social hierarchies.
British Dictionary definitions for hierarchies

hierarchy

/ˈhaɪəˌrɑːkɪ/
noun (pl) -chies
1.
a system of persons or things arranged in a graded order
2.
a body of persons in holy orders organized into graded ranks
3.
the collective body of those so organized
4.
a series of ordered groupings within a system, such as the arrangement of plants and animals into classes, orders, families, etc
5.
(linguistics, maths) a formal structure, usually represented by a diagram of connected nodes, with a single uppermost element Compare ordering, heterarchy, tree (sense 6)
6.
government by an organized priesthood
Derived Forms
hierarchical, hierarchic, adjective
hierarchically, adverb
hierarchism, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin hierarchia, from Late Greek hierarkhia, from hierarkhēs high priest; see hiero-, -archy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for hierarchies

hierarchy

n.

mid-14c., from Old French ierarchie, from Medieval Latin hierarchia "ranked division of angels" (in the system of Dionysius the Areopagite), from Greek hierarkhia "rule of a high priest," from hierarkhes "high priest, leader of sacred rites," from ta hiera "the sacred rites" (neuter plural of hieros "sacred;" see ire) + arkhein "to lead, rule" (see archon). Sense of "ranked organization of persons or things" first recorded 1610s, initially of clergy, sense probably influenced by higher. Related: Hierarchal; hierarchical.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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