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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 of hierarchy
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hierarchy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The monks were the "regulars" who formed the spiritual nobility and not the ruling class in the hierarchy.

    The Rise of the Mediaeval Church Alexander Clarence Flick
  • There is no hierarchy in Buddhism: it is a religion of absolute freedom.

    The Soul of a People H. Fielding
  • My orders were to rise in the El Hassan hierarchy and await further orders.

    Border, Breed Nor Birth Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • Nowhere do you find a hierarchy more prevalent than among them.

    The Nabob Alphonse Daudet
  • It was considered heretical to even speak of stinting the wealth that was freely poured into the coffers of the hierarchy.

    The Story of Seville Walter M. Gallichan
British Dictionary definitions for hierarchy

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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for 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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hierarchy in Technology


An organisation with few things, or one thing, at the top and with several things below each other thing. An inverted tree structure. Examples in computing include a directory hierarchy where each directory may contain files or other directories; a hierarchical network (see hierarchical routing), a class hierarchy in object-oriented programming.
(1994-10-11)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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20
18
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