Pa"tri*arch (?), n. [F. patriarche, L. patriarcha, Gr. , fr. lineage, especially on the father's side, race; father + a leader, chief, fr. to lead, rule. See Father, Archaic.]
The father and ruler of a family; one who governs his family or descendants by paternal right; -- usually applied to heads of families in ancient history, especially in Biblical and Jewish history to those who lived before the time of Moses.
2. R. C. Ch. & Gr. Ch.
A dignitary superior to the order of archbishops; as, the patriarch of Constantinople, of Alexandria, or of Antioch.
A venerable old man; an elder. Also used figuratively.
The patriarch hoary, the sage of his kith and the hamlet.
The monarch oak, the partiarch of trees.
© Webster 1913.