Other forms: matriarchs

Rose Kennedy was the matriarch of the Kennedy clan — she was the female head of the family. This noun can also be used metaphorically. For instance, Alice Waters could be called the matriarch of Chez Panisse and the generation of chefs that her revolutionary restaurant inspired.

Although matriarch was created as a parallel term to patriarch, this eighteenth-century new creation was based on a false etymology. Although patri- might look related to the Latin pater "father," it actually comes from the Greek patria "family." Presumably, it was assumed that such a person would be a man. In any case, patriarch has come to mean the male head of a family or clan, while matriarch is used if the head of a family or clan is female.

Definitions of matriarch
  1. noun
    a female head of a family or tribe
    synonyms: materfamilias
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    type of:
    head of household
    the head of a household or family or tribe
    adult female, woman
    an adult female person (as opposed to a man)
  2. noun
    a feisty older woman with a big bosom (as drawn in cartoons)
    see moresee less
    type of:
    adult female, woman
    an adult female person (as opposed to a man)
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