Pronunciation: (hī'u-rär"kē, hī'rär-), [key]
pl. -chies.

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. Ling.the system of levels according to which a language is organized, as phonemic, morphemic, syntactic, or semantic.

Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.

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