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American Dictionary of the English Language

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Patriarch


PA'TRIARCH, noun [Latin patriarcha; Gr. a family, father, and a chief.]

1. The father and ruler of a family; one who governs by paternal right. It is usually applied to the progenitors of the Israelites, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the sons of Jacob, or to the heads of families before the flood; as the antediluvian patriarchs.

2. A learned and distinguished character among the Jews.

3. In the christian church, a dignitary superior to the order of archbishops; as the patriarch of Constantinople, of Alexandria, or of Ephesus.