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[mey-tree-ahr-kee] /ˈmeɪ triˌɑr ki/
noun, plural matriarchies.
a family, society, community, or state governed by women.
a form of social organization in which the mother is head of the family, and in which descent is reckoned in the female line, the children belonging to the mother's clan; matriarchal system.
Origin of matriarchy
1880-85; matri- + -archy Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for matriarchy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some tribes were endogamic, and there matriarchy was the rule, descent being traced through the female line.

  • MacLennan maintains the existence of matriarchy in promiscuity, but this is inadmissible.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • For this is one of the few civilised States—for aught I know it is the only one—in which "matriarchy" still prevails.

    Appearances Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson
  • At the death of the father his own children were disinherited, in the matriarchy.

    Women As Sex Vendors R. B. Tobias
  • In effect, however, women owned the country and women governed it; suddenly the matriarchy existed.

    Love Story Irving E. Cox, Jr.
  • He touched a hundred subjects; he developed a theory of matriarchy.

    A Tramp's Notebook Morley Roberts
  • Descent was matrilinear, and a society known as matriarchy existed, as contrasted to the later patriarchy.

  • Thrayxite is a matriarchy, something we of Ihelos never suspected.

  • With the development of civilization we find that adaptation tends to take the form of matriarchy, as in the United States.

British Dictionary definitions for matriarchy


noun (pl) -chies
a form of social organization in which a female is head of the family or society, and descent and kinship are traced through the female line
any society dominated by women
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 matriarchy

formed in English 1881 from matriarch + -y (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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matriarchy in Culture
matriarchy [(may-tree-ahr-kee)]

A family or society in which authority is held by females, through whom descent and inheritance are traced. More generally, a matriarchy is a society dominated by women. (See also matrilineal, patriarchy, and patrilineal.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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